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Australian History

December 18, 1894 – Women in South Australia unofficially gain the right to vote

South Australians Marching for Women's Voting Rights

South Australians Marching for Women’s Voting Rights

Women in South Australia gained the right to vote in 1894, and voted for the first time in the election of 1896.

It is generally recognised that this right occurred with the passing of a Bill on 18 December 1894.

However, a letter from the Attorney-General advising Governor Kintore that Royal Assent would be required to enact the Bill, is dated 21 December 1894.

The Bill was enacted when Queen Victoria gave Royal Assent on 2 February 1895.

South Australia was the first colony in Australia and only the fourth place in the world where women gained the vote.

The issue of women voting had been discussed since the 1860s, but gained momentum following the formation of the Women’s Suffrage League at Gawler Place in 1888.

Between 1885 and 1894, six Bills were introduced into Parliament but not passed.

The final, successful Bill was passed in 1894, but initially included a clause preventing women from becoming members of Parliament.

Ironically, the clause was removed thanks to the efforts of Ebenezer Ward, an outspoken opponent of women’s suffrage.

It seems that Ward hoped the inclusion of women in Parliament would be seen as so ridiculous that the whole Bill would be voted out.

The change was accepted, however, allowing the women of South Australia to gain complete parliamentary equality with men

About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner, Writer, Teacher and Business Consultant. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications. Please consider donating, to support our social justice campaign, by clicking on the "Donations Page" button in the top menu.


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