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Members’ biographical register

Carmen Mary Lawrence

Date: 2 March 1948
Place: Northam Hospital, Western Australia
Daughter of Ernest Richard Lawrence, farmer, and Mary Norma Watson
Marriage and Family
Married 14 July 1979, Fremantle to Heath Andrew Kelly
Children: one son
Educated Dominican Ladies College, Dongara (1954 and 1958–1962); Marian Convent, Morawa (1955–1957); Santa Maria College, Attadale (1963–1964), won General Exhibition and Special Subject Exhibition in Economics 1964
University of Western Australia (1965–1968)—Bachelor of Psychology with Hons (first class) 1968, PhD 1983
Received JA Wood Memorial Prize in 1968 for most outstanding graduate in faculties of Arts, Economics and Commerce, Law, Architecture and Education
Won Benjamin Rosenstamm prize in economics 1965, British Psychological Society Prize 1966 and HL Fowler prize for Research in Psychology 1968
University lecturer and research psychologist
Employment History
Research assistant 1969–1971
Full-time tutor, Department of Psychology, University of Melbourne, Victoria 1972–1973
Part-time lecturer Department of Nursing, WAIT (Western Australian Institute of Technology) 1974–1978
Research psychologist 1974 and 1978
Fulltime senior tutor Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Science, University of Western Australia 1979, lecturer 1980–1983
Research Services, Health Department of WA 1983–1986
Joined Australian Labor Party (ALP) 1978
Vice president Subiaco–Wembley branch 1982–1987, delegate Curtin Electorate Council 1982–1988, member Administrative Committee 1985–1988
Proxy delegate ALP National Conference 1986
Member ALP National Social Justice Strategy Committee 1987–1988
Federal President ALP 1 January 2004–31 December 2004
Date Elected
8 February 1986
Inaugural Speech
Lawrence, Carmen Mary, Inaugural Speech.pdf
Inaugural Video
Search for speeches by Carmen Lawrence
Year Retired/Resigned
Parliamentary Service

  • MLA Subiaco 8 February 1986–4 February 1989 (electorate abolished in redistribution); Glendalough 4 February 1989–14 February 1994 (resigned)
  • Contested East Melville 19 February 1983

  • Premier 1990–1993
  • Minister for Education and Aboriginal Affairs (from 28 February 1989) 25 February 1988–February 1990
  • Premier, Minister for Public Sector Management, Women’s Interests, Education, and Aboriginal Affairs 12 February 1990–19 February 1990
  • Premier, Treasurer, Minister for the Family, Aboriginal Affairs, Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs, and Women's Interests 19 February 1990–5 February 1991
  • Premier, Treasurer, Minister for the Family, and Women’s Interests 5 February 1991–7 September 1992
  • Premier, Treasurer, Minister for Employment, and Trade and Investment 7 September 1992–16 February 1993
  • Leader of the Opposition 16 February 1993–7 February 1994

  • Deputy Chairman of Committees 1986–1988
  • Member Public Accounts and Expenditure Review Committee 1986–April 1988
  • Member Select Committee on the Midland Abattoir Land Sale 1986

Historical Notes
  • First woman in Australia to hold the office of State Premier

  • MHR Fremantle 12 March 1994 (by-election)–24 November 2007
  • Minister for Human Services and Health and Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women 25 March 1994–11 March 1996
  • Shadow Minister for the Environment, Arts, and Assistant to the Leader of the Opposition on the Status of Women 20 March 1996–21 April 1997; for Industry, Innovation and Technology, for the Status of Women 5 September 2000–25 November 2001; for Reconciliation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, the Arts, and Status of Women 25 November 2001–5 December 2002

  • Member Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and Arts 30 May 1996–31 August 1998
  • Member Standing Committee on Environment and Heritage 8 December 1998–27 November 2000
  • Member Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs 20 March 2002–17 October 2007
  • Member Joint Statutory Committee on Native Title and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Fund 20 March 2002–20 March 2003
  • Member Joint Standing Committee on Migration 2 December 2004–17 October 2007
Grew up in Gutha in wheatbelt
Chairman Child Sexual Abuse Task Force 1986–1988
President Newman Society, University of Western Australia 1967
Executive member Post-Graduate Students’ Association, University of Western Australia 1970
Founding member Women’s Electoral Lobby 1972
Chairperson 40 km/hr Trial Zone Evaluation and Monitoring Committee 1988
After leaving federal politics Professorial Fellow in School of Psychology at UWA
Chairman Australian Heritage Council from June 2010
B Psych, PhD
D Black and G Bolton, eds, Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia: volume two 1930-2010, Western Australian Parliamentary History Project, Perth, WA, 2011, p. 147.
Daily News, 7 October 1988.
Labor Voice, January 1988.
Making a Difference, p. 137–143.
Sunday Times, 26 February 1989, 27 March 1994.
West Australian, 17 February 1990, 19 March 1994.
WA Magazine, 21–27 October 1989.
Further Information
Chapter 19. Carmen Lawrence biography and reflections.pdf