Department of Premier and Cabinet

Lynda Heaven

Significant Tasmanian Women icon

(1902-1987)
First Tasmanian Female Labor MHA
and first Tasmanian Female Juror

Lynda Heaven(Image reproduced with permission from the website of the Parliament of Tasmania)

Lynda Heaven (nee Hocking) was born in Daylesford, Victoria, and held the seat of Franklin twice between 1962 and 1964. She entered Parliament after successfully challenging one Brian Crawford, who had been elected on a recount following the death of the incumbent but was found not to be residing in Tasmania.

There is little in the parliamentary record to shed light on Heaven's political convictions. However, on 14 September 1962 it was reported that she advocated legislation to aid deserted wives and bring absconding husbands to account, and urged the establishment of family planning clinics in Tasmania's major towns. Heaven contested her seat at the general election of 2 May 1964. Of the three women candidates in the division of Franklin - Mabel Miller, Heaven and Kathleen Reynolds - only Miller was elected.

Although Heaven's parliamentary career was short, she was politically active at the volunteer and community level throughout her life. Her many roles included member of the UN Association of Australia, State Secretary of the National Council of Women, Federal Secretary of the Australian Housewives' Association, State President of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, foundation member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in Tasmania, and consumers' representative on the Milk Board.

Heaven's career shared characteristics with those of other Australian women MPs of the early 1960s. Historians Marian Sawer and Marian Sims have noted that such women tended not to be performing paid work - being expected to give this up, if they had it, upon marriage - but were making a substantial contribution to public life through committee and voluntary work.

These women were also characterised by their late start in parliamentary politics. Heaven was 60 and her four surviving children adult when she won office, too late to commence a serious political career. Had she wanted one, social mores and practicalities would have presented serious obstacles. Mothers were expected to serve their families full-time and the duties of political office were not structured to accommodate these responsibilities. It would take another 20 years before Australian parliaments included a sprinkling of women MPs with young children.

(See also:  Women and jury service in Tasmania for Lynda Heaven's role as Tasmania's first female juror)

This entry was researched and written by Michelle Laffer, B.A. (Hons)


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