During the 1890s, women in Queensland finally decided they were not stopping until they got suffrage. Many took to heart Louisa Lawson's advice to those who met to form the Dawn Club in Sydney in 1889 that women's only method to procure release, redress, or change, is to ceaselessly agitate, and did just that for ten years from the militant public meetings in 1894 to the achievement of suffrage for (white) women in Queensland State elections proclaimed in the Election Acts Amendment Act on 26 January 1905.
Since Queensland's 1859 separation from New South Wales, parliamentarians were elected on the plural vote. How many votes a man had depended upon how much property he owned; a wealthy squatter could have up to a dozen votes. Among those entirely excluded from voting - along with women - were those of unsound mind and, at that stage, men in the police force and the army. A controversial and divisive issue for the women's suffrage movement was whether women wanted the vote on the same conditions as men, or whether they were seeking, as did the Labor Party, abolition of the property vote.
The suffragists were drawn from different strata of society and not all were privileged - although they have often been stereotyped as middle class. There were Labor Party and/or union activist women, such as Emma Miller, evangelical humanists from the Women's Christian Temperance Union, and woman identified reformists with strong reservations about the help that could be expected from male-dominated organisations.
Pictured: a chatelaine (a set of short chains
attached to a woman's belt,
for carrying keys, perfume, smelling salts, pin cushion, ...)
photo: Shev Armstrong