Friday, 20th September 2019
Honouring our pioneers in the on-going quest for Women's equality on the 125th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage in South Australia.
The 125th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage in South Australia enables us to reflect on those pioneers whose passion and fortitude enable us to live in a society where inclusion and fairness provide important foundations for our society.
In the gardens outside Government House, a sculpture of suffragist Mary Lee looks towards that of our first female Governor, Dame Roma Mitchell, and onwards to Parliament House.
Mary Lee’s place in history is particularly significant: 125 years ago, legislation seeking the vote for women was wending its way through the Parliament. A few weeks earlier, a petition seeking the vote for women that she and many others had valiantly organised, was tabled in Parliament.
The tabling was strategically timed. The legislation had passed the Upper House and was about to be debated in the House of Assembly. South Australia stood poised to embrace fundamental change: legislation granting women the right to vote and to stand for Parliament.
The petition was a powerful symbol of the hopes and aspirations of Mary Lee and other pioneering suffragists like Catherine Helen Spence, Elizabeth Webb Nicholls, Augusta Zadow, Agnes Milne, Mary Colton, Rose Birks and Serena Lake.
The petition, rolled and tied with gold ribbon, had 11,600 signatures, diligently collected by members of the Women’s Suffrage League, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Working Women’s Trade Union. The signatures were as varied as the people who signed it must have been, with large copperplate flourishes in ink and other names in pencil. The signatories came from Adelaide, from Moonta Mines, from Lyrup, Port Augusta, Andamooka, from Glenelg and Magill, to name but a few places.
The fervent wish of those who signed? That women should, through the right to vote, be able to influence the laws under which they lived.
Such fundamental reform didn’t happen by chance. It was the culmination of the hard work and fortitude of supportive organisations, of Members of Parliament and of many ordinary citizens. Their industriousness in holding meetings, writing letters, travelling the State with the petition, in organising and agitating, is a source of inspiration.
I believe it is no accident that world-leading reform happened in South Australia.
The early European settlers had founded a free state built on enlightened reform. In England, it was a time of flourishing debate on more equitable class representation in Parliament and great literature focussing on social justice and equality.
Here in the colony, just 58 years after settlement, women with property could vote in municipal elections, and we had congratulated our first female graduate from the University of Adelaide in 1885.
But six Bills to enable votes for women for State Parliament had already failed, and those opposed to granting the franchise were using parliamentary tactics to defeat the new one: they had ensured it contained the right of women to stand for Parliament not because they wanted this to happen, but because they thought it would result in the Bill’s defeat.
Instead, it passed and South Australia became the first jurisdiction in Australia and one of the first in the world to grant universal suffrage alongside the right to stand for Parliament, rights that also extended to Aboriginal women.
Women embraced the right to vote - at the 1896 general election about 66% of eligible women did so – although ironically South Australia was the last State to elect a woman to Parliament, some 65 years later.
As we celebrate the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage, we are reminded that achieving gender equality remains an ongoing task for all of us. In public life, in Parliaments around the nation, in our boardrooms and workplaces - we can lift our ambitions and improve our outcomes. And we must do more to tackle domestic violence.
All these issues continue to demand our attention, to realise the vision and aspirations of the pioneering suffragists.
Mary Lee has left us a powerful message.
On the pedestal of her sculpture these words appear: “My aim is to leave the world better for women than I found it.”
A worthy sentiment for us all to consider.
Image of petition reproduced by permission of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Parliament of SA
Monday, 10th June 2019
His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC has accepted a request from The Premier, the Honourable Steven Marshall MP, that he continue to serve in the office of Governor of South Australia until 31 August 2021.
For further information, please click here.
Saturday, 9th March 2019
Her Majesty The Queen has issued a Message on the occasion of Commonwealth Day 2019. The text of Her Majesty’s Message can be found here.
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Her Majesty The Queen has sent the following message to those Australians currently affected by the drought:
"Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to hear of one of the worst Australian droughts in living memory.
I know Australia as a land where extremes of weather, floods and droughts are taken in their stride, and life goes on with a stoic and determined spirit. It is clear, however, that the current drought is taking an immense toll, especially on those living and working in rural communities, who are, in so many ways, the very heart and soul of Australia.
It is heartening and reassuring to see that families, communities and the entire nation are working together and supporting each other at this time of need.
My thoughts and prayers are with the many individuals, families, communities and businesses who have been affected, and I send my sincere thanks to all those who stand shoulder-to-shoulder in their support. Elizabeth R."
The Queen has also made a private donation to support the drought relief efforts.
Friday, September 30, 2016
His Excellency writes:
As the State continues to deal with the consequences of the extreme weather events that have befallen us over recent days, my wife Lan and I extend our thoughts and best wishes to everyone who has been affected.
Lan and I have been deeply moved and impressed by the resilience and fortitude with which South Australians have responded in these unprecedented circumstances.
Many have gone above and beyond the call of duty and many have helped out on a completely voluntary basis.
Communities and individuals have borne difficult circumstances with great spirit and risen to novel challenges with dedication, ingenuity and a wonderful sense of shared effort and common purpose.
I know that these qualities will also underpin the challenges of recovery that are yet to come.
While the immediate crisis may have passed for much of the state, I know too that events have been frightening and traumatic in some cases and that some communities remain significantly affected. Our special thoughts are with them.
At this moment I am more proud than ever to be Governor of this State. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the police and emergency services, to volunteers, to local councils and community organisations and to all those who have wholeheartedly engaged in every effort to avoid loss of life, to save properties and to minimise damage.
Over coming days as events move into a recovery phase, I hope to make visits to some of the affected areas.
Friday, July 15, 2016
His Excellency writes:
I extend my deepest sympathies to the people of France in the wake of the tragic events in Nice, on the evening of the 14th of July.
Only hours before it had been my great honour to view Australians march alongside their French counterparts in the Bastille Day Parade in Paris.
I am deeply saddened by what has unfolded and my thoughts and prayers are with the people involved in this terrible incident, as well as their families and friends.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
His Excellency the Governor and Mrs Le are delighted to welcome the announcement from Clarence House that Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall will be including South Australia in the itinerary for their Australian visit in November.
The announcement can be found here: http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/media/press-releases/the-prince-of-wales-and-the-duchess-of-cornwall-will-visit-australia-and-new
and the Prime Minister's announcement can be found here: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/2015-10-14/australia-welcomes-visit-their-royal-highnesses
Monday, March 9, 2015
Her Majesty The Queen has issued a Message on the occasion of Commonwealth Day 2015, with the theme of ‘A Young Commonwealth’. The text of Her Majesty’s Message can be found at the following link:
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le AO received the following message from Her Majesty The Queen:
MESSAGE FROM HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN
Prince Philip and I send our sincere thanks and appreciation to the hundreds of firefighters and community volunteers who have risked their lives to contain the bushfires in South Australia and Victoria.
Our thoughts are with the families who have lost their homes and personal possessions in the fires.
I commend the courage and fortitude of the men and women who continue to assist with the emergency operations and those who are providing support to the people who are directly affected.