Susan Grace Benny and Agnes Goode first females on Adelaide suburban councils
Susan Benny (Brighton) and Agnes Goode (St Peters) were the first female Adelaide suburban councillors.
Images courtesy of State Library of South Australia
Although South Australia had a long wait for women to represent it in parliaments, Susan Benny and Agnes Goode had early 20th Century success in local government.
In 1919, Benny became the first woman councillor in Australia when ratepayers petitioned state parliament to appoint her to the new Seacliff Ward on Brighton Council. She held the seat in two elections and unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 1922.
Benny argued for access to the beach, electric lights and reserves for a children's playground and public garden. She wanted segregated seaside bathing abolished so families could swim together.
Benny became president of the women’s branch of the South Australian Liberal Union in 1918. She argued for equality of divorce for women. This became law in South Australia in 1918.
Agnes Goode, in 1924, became the first woman to win a council election: St Peters’ Hackney Ward. (She also contested the Adelaide mayoralty in 1935.)
Goode was the first woman preselected as candidate by a South Australian political party (Liberal) in 1923. (Labor’s first was Marie Skitch, in 1938.)
As Liberal candidate for the House of Assembly seat of Adelaide in 1924, Goode was beaten by Labor’s controversial A.A. (Bert) Edwards, who also won the Adelaide City Council Grey Ward election against her.
Goode continued her clash with Edwards by standing twice more the Adelaide seat for the Non-Party Association (1926) and Liberal Federation (1927).