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Greg Hunt MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Member for Flinders

26 January 2006

Heritage listing for places that built our nation

The first place in the world where women were given the right to stand for parliament has been included in the National Heritage List, Hon Greg Hunt MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment and Heritage announced today.

Mr Hunt said South Australia's Houses of Parliament had played a major role in the development of democracy in Australia.

"South Australia's parliament was a world and national leader in establishing democracy during the 19th century and its Parliament Houses are nationally important as the first place in the world where women were given the right to stand for parliament," he said.

"South Australia was also the first Australian colony, and one of the first places in the world, to grant universal suffrage to men, in 1856, and to women, in 1894."

Mr Hunt said the first woman stood for South Australian parliament in 1918 but it wasn't until 1959 that women entered the state parliament following the election of Jessie Cooper to the House of Assembly and Joyce Steele to the Legislative Council.

It was fitting that the South Australian Houses of Parliament were recognised for their significance to Australia's democratic foundation on Australia Day.

"I invite South Australians to reflect on the importance of the progressive role their early parliament played in securing the rights of women to stand for parliament and influence public debate at a time when women were discouraged from participating in these activities in Europe and the United States," Mr Hunt said.

The National Heritage List, established in January 2004, is Australia's pre-eminent heritage register, recognising places that are of outstanding significance to the nation.

South Australia's Parliament Houses join 23 other places on the List. This is South Australia's first place to be included in the List.

National Heritage listing will protect the heritage values of these places under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

For more information,

Media enquiries:
Kristy McSweeney (Mr Hunt's office) 0415 740 722

Commonwealth of Australia