House debates

Monday, 19 October 2020

Statements by Members

Gellibrand Electorate: Electorate Name

4:02 pm

Photo of Tim WattsTim Watts (Gellibrand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

The names of our federal electorates are intended to recognise the outstanding contributions of Australians to our nation, yet the contributions of women who have helped make Australia the country it is today are dramatically underrepresented in the names of our federal electorates. As Professor Clare Wright has pointed out, there are many women who have made outstanding contributions to our nation, but only 17 of the 151 federal electorates in this place are named after them. We can do better. In 2018 the Australian Labor Party, Victorian division, and I argued that the namesake of my electorate, Joseph Gellibrand, as John Batman's lawyer and the drafter of the Batman treaty, was not an appropriate namesake for a federal electorate in 21st century Australia. The AEC is currently considering public suggestions on the redistribution in Victoria, and I am again saying that Gellibrand ought to be renamed and, in the spirit of moving towards greater representation for women in this place, ought to be named after a great Australian woman. I can think of no woman in Melbourne's west more deserving of this honour than Joan Kirner OAM, AC. Joan Kirner was not just the first female Premier of Victoria and the second female Premier of any Australian state; her citation for the Companion of the Order of Australia, the nation's highest honour, makes clear that Joan made outstanding contributions to the nation as a whole in the fields of politics, conservation and gender equality. She would be a fitting choice for the namesake of the seat of Gellibrand, and I encourage all residents of my electorate and Australia to make submissions to the AEC to make this case.