Janine Haines impacts as leader of Australian Democrats with balance of power at federal level


Janine Haines’ election to the senate in 1980 started a phase of high profile for South Australian women parliamentarians in federal politics.

In 1986, Haines, a former maths and English teacher, created a first by being elected leader of the Australian Democrats party, succeeding Don Chipp.

Under Haines’ leadership, the Australian Democrats held the balance of power in the senate and she significantly increased the party's electoral support.

Haines used her party’s position in the senate to negotiate changes to government legislation in areas such as health care and equal opportunity for women.

She furthered the senate’s role as a house of review of government legislation, and she is credited with enhancing senate committees’ capacities to scrutinise legislation and government performance.

At the peak of her own and the Australian Democrats' electoral popularity in 1990, Haines resigned from the senate to contest (unsuccessfully) the South Australian House of Representatives seat of Kingston, promising not to return to the senate if she failed. After leaving politics, Janine Haines was on a range of committees and boards. She was head of the Australian Privacy Charter Council and deputy vice-chancellor of Adelaide University. Janine Haines died in 2004, aged 59, after a long illness.

Her book about women in parliament, Suffrage to Sufferance, is used as a text in high schools and universities.

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