Bill's Speeches

JOAN KIRNER AC

SPEECH TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

JOAN KIRNER AC

 

TUESDAY, 2 JUNE 2015

 

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Australia has lost another Labor champion.

 

Joan Kirner’s death deeply saddens us all.

 

From her father, a fitter and turner, Joan drew a deep faith in social justice.

 

From her mother, a music teacher, she learned to believe women could do anything.

 

This defined her always: a dauntless warrior for social democracy and a leader of the march of women through the institutions of power in our nation.

 

Joan Kirner’s was a life lived for the transformative power of education: as a community advocate, parliamentarian, Minister and Premier.

 

When she graduated from the University of Melbourne, Joan became a teacher at Ballarat Technical School.

 

When she married her husband Ron two years later, she became automatically ineligible for a permanent teaching contract.

 

It was an act of unfairness that she never forgot….

 

…and a marker of the inequality she dedicated her life to overturning.

 

Joan looked at society and refused to accept the status quo.

 

She once said:

 

There is no such thing as being non-political.

 

Just by making a decision to stay out of politics, you are making the decision to allow others to shape politics and exert power over you.

 

…if you are alienated from the current political system, then just by staying out of it you do nothing to change it, you simply entrench it.

 

This was the deep faith that she kept - and the Labor cause she served, all her days.

 

As the first woman Premier of Victoria, she was a mentor and an inspiration for so many women, including Australia's first woman Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

 

Last night, Julia paid touching tribute to her:

 

‘the truest of friends.’ 

 

Joan Kirner, she said:

 

‘was one of the dominant influences on my life. I basked in her warmth and treasured her support’

 

Countless Australian women - and men - will be feeling poorer for her passing.

 

Today we salute Joan Kirner’s decades of selfless service, her passionate resolve and her unconquerable advocacy.

 

We remember her wicked sense of humour, her hatred of pomposity and her love for the Essendon Football Club.

 

And we offer our deepest condolences to her family, her husband Ron, children Michael, David, and Kate, Michael’s partner Madeleine, her grandchildren Ned, Sam, Xanthe and Joachim, and everyone who loved her.

 

Joan Kirner fought the good fight.

 

Now her battle is over, her duty done.

 

May she rest in peace.

 

ENDS

 

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