Susan Ryan AO 1942-2020

Susan Ryan, former Labor Senator and Minister, pioneer in sex discrimination legislation and other fields, died unexpectedly yesterday at the age of 77. A tribute in The Conversation from Chris Wallace (University of Canberra), one in Pearls and Irritations from Michael Kelly, and one from a Susan Ryan successor as Senator from the ACT, Katy Gallagher, who said in part:

Susan dedicated her life to public service through many different roles, both in public office as a Labor senator and minister, as well as in senior roles across the private and public sector. Her distinguished career included many firsts. She was the first Senator for the Australian Capital Territory and the first Labor Senator for the ACT. The first Labor woman appointed to a frontbench position. The first Labor woman appointed to a ministry. The first Labor woman to enter Cabinet.

She will be remembered as the woman who led the way, who built the path that Labor woman, including myself, have followed. She showed women all around Australia that not only was “a woman’s place is in the Senate” – a woman’s place was at every table where the decisions were being made. A servant to the people, a passionate advocate for gender equality and for a world free from discrimination, her enormous contribution to shaping our nation will live on even though she is no longer with us.


Every Australian’s life has been improved by her leadership on gender equality. She blazed the trail for Labor women, including me. I honour a woman of courage and true believer. (Tweet from former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard)

28 September 2020