Vicki Chapman: South Australia's first female deputy premier and attorney general in 2018

Adelaide University salutes notable law school graduate Vickie Chapman, first South Australian female deputy premier/attorney general.

Vickie Chapman became South Australia’s first female deputy premier and attorney general in 2018 with the election of the Steven Marshall state Liberal government.

Born on Kangaroo Island, she attended Parndana Area School and later Pembroke School before graduating as a barrister in 1979 from Adelaide University law school.

Her father Ted was a Liberal member in the South Australian House of Assembly and a member of Steele-Hall’s Liberal Movement moderate faction in the 1970s and agriculture minister in David Tonkin’s Liberal state government.

After trying for the federal seat of Barker in 1998, Vicki Chapman won preselection (against Liberal minister Michael Armitage) for the safe eastern-suburbs Liberal seat of Bragg in 2001 and has held it comfortably at elections since 2002.  She immediately joined the Liberal opposition front bench, with the shadow portfolios of education and children's services. She was touted as a future Liberal leader but also seen as continuing the party’s factional battles from the Liberal Movement days.

Chapman was elected deputy in 2006 to Iain Evans, from the party’s conservative faction. With strong backing from moderates federal Sturt MP Christopher Pyne and former premier Dean Brown, Chapman kept the deputy post when Martin Hamilton-Smith ousted Evans as leader in 2007. Chapman ran against Hamilton-Smith for the leadership in 2009, but received only 10 votes, against Hamilton-Smith's 11, with Evans abstaining.

Conservative Isobel Redmond was elected deputy leade to replace Chapman. When Hamilton-Smith stepped aside later that year, Chapman again ran for the leadership but received only nine votes against Redmond's 13. After a third Liberal election loss in 2010, when she was linked to a possible challenge to Redmond, Chapman voted for Hamilton-Smith as deputy leader against Evans.

Chapman’s second term as deputy leader was solidified when  she ruled out a challenge to new Liberal leader Marshall in 20

Other related ADELAIDEAZ articles

David Tonkin a mix of economic conservative, socially progressive; hit by 1980s recession

Dr David Tonkin’s one-term Liberal government was economically conservative yet socially progressive. Tonkin made big cuts to the public service, turning unions against him, but also passed the land rights bill that returned 10% of South Australia’s area to the Pitjantjatjara people. He was early an supporter of the Liberal Movement faction but remained with the LCL. The early 1980s economic recession hindered Tonkin government’s chances of being elected again.

Adelaide University 2nd in world and Australia's first to admit women on equal terms in 1881

University of Adelaide, founded in 1876, was the second in the English-speaking world (after the University of London, 1878), and first in Australia, to admit women officially on equal terms with men in 1881. But women (making up more than half the enrolments) had studied alongside men at Adelaide University from 1876, and were equally eligible for all academic prizes and honours. Adelaide University's admission of women was 40 years ahead of Oxford University. Its first female graduate in 1885 was Edith Emily Dornwell, also the first person in Australia to receive a bachelor of science degree. The university also graduated Australia's first female surgeon, Laura Fowler (1891), and Australia’s first woman with a doctorate in music (1918). In 1902, Adelaide’s Helen Mayo became the first woman elected to an Australian university council. Nearly 50 years after graduating in law in 1934, Roma Mitchell returned to the university as chancellor – another first for Australian women.

Tom Playford rides on rural electoral bias of Liberal and Country League merger in 1932

With more Labor election victories under a first-past-the-post voting system, the Country Party merged in 1932 with the Liberal Federation (merging the Liberal Union and National Party from 1923-32) to form the South Australian Liberal and Country League (LCL). The key concession for the merger demanded by the Country Party was a 2:1 ratio to favour rural areas in the LCL structure and the state’s electoral system. Tom Playford's 27 years as premier would benefit from this gerrymander.

Catholic Church takes conservative swing under John Paul II but liberalism lingers

The story of the Catholic Church in South Australia after World War II is a swing to a liberal outlook gradually eroded by a reasserting of conservative control by Rome. But, in the tradition of Mary MacKillop, outstanding Catholic individuals continue their service to the community regardless of church liturgy or hierarchical attitudes. David Cappo, who became Vicar General  of the Adelaide diocese from 2002, also took on the role of Social Inclusion Commissioner for the state.


Among many causes, Catherine Helen Spence heads clothing company with good conditions

Another leading South Australian women's suffrage campaigner, Catherine Helen Spence was active in many causes. She chaired the all-female South Australian Co-operative Clothing Co., Adelaide's first electric-powered clothing factory, set up in 1902, to protect women workers from being exploited in the “sweating” system. She was a prime mover, with Caroline Emily Clark, of the Boarding-out Society, aimed at removing destitute children from the asylum into approved families.

Caroline Emily Clark proposes family foster care for children to end institutional poverty

Caroline Emily Clark, in the 1860s, led South Australia into being the first Australian colony to take children out of government institutions and into boarding-out family foster care, to break their poverty cycle. Foster families would be paid a government subsidy for the child’s support. After initial government reluctance, Clark’s boarding-out system was enshrined in South Australian law that also set up industrial and reformatory schools. The Boarding Out Society was absorbed by the State Children’s Council in 1886. Clark, who came from England to join brother John Howard Clark (owner of the Register newspaper) in 1863, floated her idea from what she had seen in Scotland. She was also spurred on by fellow Unitarian Annie Montgomerie Martin.

Contact Us

We welcome positive constructive feedback