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Browsing: Biography may or may not be the key to history…

Biography may or may not be the key to history…

…but the biographies of those who served in institutions of government can throw great light on the workings of those institutions. These biographies of Australia’s senators are offered not only because they deal with interesting people, but because they inform an assessment of the Senate as an institution. They also provide insights into the history and identity of Australia. Harry Evans, 2000.

This web site presents biographies of Australian senators and clerks of the Senate  who completed their service in the Senate between 1901 to 2002.

The Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate was verified, edited and compiled in the Biographical Dictionary Unit of the Research Section of the Australian Senate. Entries were generously contributed by authors, including historians, biographers, political scientists, journalists, public servants, archivists, librarians, officers of the Senate and other parliamentary departments, former senators and descendants of senators, and others. List of contributors

The Dictionary was supported by an Advisory Board, who provided advice and support that was based on experience in the subject area and in publishing.

Volume 1 cover

Hard copy editions

The biographies were first prepared for hard copy publication, and volumes have been issued as follows:

Volume 1: 1901–1929, Melbourne University Press, Carlton South, Vic., 2000 – Read introduction

Volume 2: 1929–1962, Melbourne University Press, Carlton, Vic., 2004 – Read introduction

Volume 3: 1962–1983, University of New South Wales Press Ltd, Sydney, 2010 – Read introduction 

Volume 4: 1983–2002, Department of the Senate, Canberra, 2017 – Read introduction

All volumes are available for order on the APH website


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Women in the Senate

The first female senator, Dorothy Tangney, commenced her term in the Senate on 23 September 1943. Of the 415 senators represented on this website, who completed their service by the end of 2002, 32 were women.

Women in the Senate 1901-2002

Senate Brief No. 3

Clerks of the Senate

The Clerk of the Senate is the principal advisor to all senators on matters relating to the business and procedures of the Senate and its committees. This advice is given to all senators on an equal basis, and is available when the Senate is sitting and at other times.

Clerks of the Senate

Senate Brief No. 15

World War 1914–1918