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´╗┐Title: Equal Suffrage in Australia
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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by the Library of Congress)



Political Equality Series


VOL. 1. Subscription Price 10c per Year. NO. 6.


Published monthly by the NATIONAL AMERICAN WOMAN
SUFFRAGE ASSOCIATION. Headquarters, Warren, O.

       *       *       *       *       *

Equal Suffrage in Australia.


Lady Holder, the wife of Sir Frederick W. Holder, K. C. M. G., Speaker
of the House of Representatives of Federated Australia, contributed the
following article to the N. Y. Independent, of June 9, 1904. Lady Holder
has taken a leading part in philanthropic work in South Australia. She
says:

"The women of South Australia were placed in a position of political
equality with men several years ago. Accordingly, everybody has become
accustomed to the arrangement, and it seems perfectly natural. It has
not produced any marked effect on female character, or made any
particular difference to domestic life. Women are more interested in
public affairs than they used to be, and politicians deal more earnestly
with home and social questions, but no neglect of private duties on that
account can be laid to the women's charge. We are well supplied with
high-class newspapers, the same sources of information are open to women
as to men, and the questions that arise are not by any means beyond the
scope of their intelligence. At election meetings there is commonly a
good sprinkling of women voters in the audiences. It is said that their
presence tends to prevent disorderliness, and I have never heard of a
lady at any meeting being rudely treated.

"Voting, with us, is one of the simplest things in the world. When an
elector's mind is made up, there is less difficulty in expressing it
through the ballot-box than in matching a ribbon, and the one act is not
considered more unfeminine than the other. Our freedom has not developed
a class of political women, we have no "shrieking sisterhood," but we
know and use our power. We can do a great deal toward securing members
of good character in the Parliament and influencing their votes, and are
generally content with the results of our enfranchisement.

"I have described the conditions in my own State thus fully because,
though it is one of the smaller States in the Australian Commonwealth,
in this matter it is further advanced than most of the others. When
federation came, adult suffrage was the law only in South Australia and
Western Australia; it has since been adopted in New South Wales and
Tasmania, but it has not yet been granted, so far as the State
Legislatures are concerned, in the other two. The Federal Parliament,
however, had to make its own electoral laws, and to establish uniformity
was obliged to adopt the broadest existing basis, because the
constitution forbade the outrage and anomaly of disfranchising persons
by whom some of its members had been elected. Accordingly, the women of
New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania were somewhat
suddenly placed in the same position of political equality, so far as
the Commonwealth is concerned, as their South Australian and West
Australian sisters. They were legally qualified to act in the Federal
elections of last December, and as they had not been allowed a similar
privilege at elections for their legislatures, of course the event
produced considerable sensation and wore an air of strangeness and
novelty. The newspapers gave special attention to the new voters, and
teemed with exhortations as to the way they should go, and it was
amusing to observe how some candidates who had fought against woman's
suffrage with all their might tried to show their supreme regard and
esteem for the voters whose rights they had previously refused. By the
time polling day arrived, the average woman was probably as well
prepared to discharge her electoral duty as the average man.

"Three women offered themselves as candidates, Mrs. Martell and Mrs.
Moore, in New South Wales, and Miss Vida Goldstein in Victoria. The
candidature of the two former was not unanimously approved by the
Women's Association of their own State, and their defeat was a foregone
conclusion; but Miss Goldstein was indorsed by the Victorian
organization to which she belonged, and, though unsuccessful, the fact
that she received 51,497 votes proved that she had many sympathizers.
She did not ally herself with either of the great political parties. Her
object was avowedly to show that home interests ought to be represented
in Parliament and by women, as well as manufacturing, mining, farming,
and other interests, by persons who were engaged in them. Next to the
votes she received, the most significant thing was the considerate and
respectful treatment she met throughout. It showed that the political
woman who respects herself may trust for protection to the chivalry of
men."

Australian experience has conclusively disposed of the objection that
women have no aptitude for politics or interest in public affairs. They
have proved that they possess both, and while they have no general
ambition or desire for parliamentary honors, and display no sex
antagonism, they regard their right to vote for representatives as a
responsible trust. It is rendered equally clear that they can and do
exercise a salutary influence on the political life of the country
without sustaining in the slightest degree any of the injuries or
disabilities that have been supposed to follow. They are as good wives,
mothers, and sisters as ever, and better companions for their men folk
because of their widened interest and the truer equality in which they
stand.

       *       *       *       *       *

Subscribe For

PROGRESS

Official Organ N. A. W. S. A.

Edited by Harriet Taylor Upton, and published monthly at National
Headquarters, Warren, Ohio.

PRICE 25 CENTS PER YEAR.


Send 10c to National Headquarters for sample set of Political Equality
leaflets.





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