Date: Thursday, 19 November 2020
I am saddened to learn of the passing of Dame Margaret Guilfoyle AC DBE, a trailblazer who served as Australia’s first female Cabinet Minister with portfolio and was also a previous Minister for Finance.
Elected in 1971, Dame Margaret spent 16 years in the Australian Parliament and served as Minister for Education, Minister for Social Security and Minister for Finance under the Fraser Government.
As Minister for Finance, she was known for her strong financial expertise and sound understanding of economic matters having studied accountancy at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
Dame Margaret was a strong believer in the importance of independence for women, a tenet strongly related to her own childhood experiences.
In later years, Dame Margaret reflected that serving as Finance Minister was the most interesting part of her Parliamentary career, as you have oversight of whole of government activity.
When she first entered the Senate, Dame Margaret noted that she was one of two women in the Chamber.
Determined to set a strong example, she paved the way for generations to follow in her footsteps. Dame Margaret said:
“I was often asked whether I was the first woman doing this or that. I always said that I thought that was not important. What was important was that I not be the last woman to have the opportunity.”
In 2019, the Senate reached gender equality in terms of representation. In part, this was achieved because of ground breakers like Dame Margaret.
Dame Margaret lived a remarkable life and helped to better the lives for many Australians.
My thoughts and deep condolences go to Dame Margaret’s family, who should have enduring pride in her contribution and accomplishments.