Celebrations are being held this week to commemorate 110 years of women’s suffrage in Australia. It seems the issue had come up in the arguments about federalism in the 1890s:
‘One man, one vote’ will not do here;
For shortly I presume an
Amending Act will make it clear
That ‘Man’ embraces ‘woman’.
The girl on whom you dote-
To satisfy their little wants
Are each to have a vote.
But that’s not all; once pass this Bill,
And more will be expected;
Once let your bride elect –she still
Will want to be elected.
But-happy thought! – their gentle ways
And pretty polished fashions
May wean the House from rude affrays,
And cool its angry passions.
Refining influence may yet
Save our M.P.’s from Hades;
A House of Lords we cannot get,
Lets have a House of Ladies.
That is, half ladies; let us do
As Noah did of old –
Draft male and female, two and two,
Into the sacred fold.
And single members – if not shy –
May then, in moderation,
Vary their heavy labours by
A little light flirtation.
And if the House should e’re incline
To weary of finance,
It can adjourn at half-past nine
To have a little dance.
We’ll read in the report next day,
Before we go to town,
That ‘White paired off with Mrs Gray,
And Black with sweet Miss Brown’.
Perhaps, indeed, – for who can say? –
In Houses so assorted,
Our legislators’ language may
Be fit to be reported.
The married member – oh! I grieve
To think how sad his fate;
His watchful wife will ne’er believe
Twas business kept him late.
She’ll scan division lists to see
If her dear spouse’s name
Appears in close proximity
To that of Mrs Flame.
She’ll ne’er admit his vote is wise,
Whichever way it goes;
She’ll take exception to his ‘Ayes’,
And criticise his ‘Noes’.
Late sittings you will have to leave,
And go home early, you men;
It isn’t easy to deceive
A lady of acumen.
R R Garran (February 1891)