I acknowledge the Traditional Owners on whose land I walk, I work and I live. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and future.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Daisy Kelly, first woman candidate, Hinchinbrook Shire Council

With the election of three women to the Hinchinbrook Shire Council in March 2016: Maria Bosworth,  Kate Milton and Mary Brown, with the later also voted by fellow councillors as deputy mayor, we are reminded of the first woman to break the ground for these successful candidates. Daisy Kelly, a grazier from Mt. Fox, was the first woman candidate for Hinchinbrook in the elections of 1946. While she failed to be elected in that year, she was 3 years later, in 1949, and served on Council until 1955.
Janice Wegner describes here as a “redoubtable” woman and that she had to be. She drew her example from her grandmother who ran a dairy at Sandy Creek, Charters Towers, and raised Daisy. Even while attending the state school there Daisy was required to help with the morning milk run. She married at 14 years of age, meeting her husband at Greenvale where she had moved earlier with her parents. Her father worked for the cattleman H. J. Atkinson who owned the Greenvale cattle station and an interest in Wollogorang. Her husband took up a block at Greenvale.  
By her early 20s Daisy and her family had relocated to Mt Fox where she did stock work and butchered cattle to provide meat to the Kangaroo Hill miners. Rare visits to Ewan and Ingham were for supplies and leisure. Once her three children were grown she moved to Ingham where she not only became a councillor but was involved in the CWA and organizing services for pensioners.
Daisy Kelly’s time on council was during the years or post war optimism and growth. Those years saw an influx of new immigrants, the emergence of a range of businesses, public utilities and clubs providing services that today are taken for granted. Roads were paved, services such as electricity and telephone reached outlying farmhouses and life became easier and safer. The progress of the first decade after the war culminated with the opening of the Abergowrie lands to sugar growing. The election of a woman in this period, and in elections to follow reflected also a growing interest by Council in social welfare. Nevertheless it took another 24 years before women were again elected to the Council. They were Shirley May Kuchler and Adene Pamela Markwell in 1979 and despite the number of woman who make up the population they have been consistently, until 2016, unequally represented on Council.
Vidonja Balanzategui, Bianka. The Herbert River Story (Ingham:Hinchinbrook Shire Council, 2011)
Wegner, Janice. “Hinchinbrook: The Hinchinbrook Shire Council, 1879-1979” (Masters diss., James Cook University of North Queensland, 1984).

Shire Hall built 1919, pictured here circa 1931. Photograph Source: State Library of Queensland

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