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Members’ biographical register

Mary Alice Holman

Date: 18 July 1893
Place: Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
Daughter of John Holman, journalist, union secretary and politician, and Katherine Mary Row
Sister of Edward Holman, printer and politician
Marriage and Family
Married 9 May 1914, District Registry Office, Perth, WA to Joseph Gardiner, son of Joseph Frances and Annie Annis
No children
Divorced 9 May 1919 (18 June 1920)
Date: 20 March 1939
Place: St John of God Hospital, Bunbury, Western Australia
Cemetery: Karrakatta Cemetery, Western Australia
Cause of Death: Car accident on 17 March 1939
Educated Dominican Convent, Cue, Dongara and Sacred Heart Convent, Perth
Union official
Employment History
1911 typist at Trades Hall
In Pierrot show
1914 worked at
Westralian Worker
1917 worked as a cinema pianist in Kalgoorlie
From 1918 assisted her father at timber workers’ union in clerical and bookkeeping and arbitration
Briefly acting secretary union 1925
President Perth Labor Women
President and secretary Labor Women’s Central Executive 1927–1939
From 1929 president Labor Women’s Organisation, Federal President Labor Women’s interstate Executive State delegate to ALP Congress, Canberra 1930
Date Elected
3 April 1925
Inaugural Speech
Inaugural Video
Search for speeches by Mary Holman
Year Retired/Resigned
Parliamentary Service
  • MLA Forrest 3 April 1925 (by-election)–20 March 1939

  • Secretary Parliamentary Labor Party 1933–1939

Royal Commission
  • Member Royal Commission to inquire into sanitation, slum clearance, health and housing regulations

Historical Notes
  • First Labor woman MP in Australia and the Commonwealth
  • Second woman MP in Australia
  • Married to Joseph Gardiner, politician who also served in the Parliament of Western Australia
Moved to Nannine, Murchison goldfields, WA with family 1896, to metropolitan area 1905
Lived nine months in Victoria
Justice of the Peace 1925
Member Board of Management, Perth Hospital from 1925
Substitute delegate to League of Nations Assembly in Geneva 1930
Gifted musician, licentiates in singing and pianoforte
Had own band ‘The Entertainers’ and in 1935 founded and conducted Labor Choral Union

The Superannuation Building, 32 St George's Terrace, Perth was named the May Holman Centre in 1985 but was renamed Golden Square in 2015 when purchased by a private company
On 24 August 2019, Premier Mark McGowan announced that 189 Royal Street, East Perth, which houses the departments of Communities and Health, will be renamed the May Holman Building
'189 Royal Street, East Perth to be renamed May Holman Building', Government of Western Australia, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Media Statement, Saturday 24 August 2019.
D Black and G Bolton, eds, Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia: volume one 1870-1930, Parliamentary History Project, Perth, WA, 2001, p. 100.
Further Information
Margaret Brown, 'Holman, Mary Alice (May) (1893–1939)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 22 December 2015
Carter, p. 152–157.
R Erickson, ed,
Dictionary of Western Australians, 1829-1914. Volume 5. The golden years, 1889-1914, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA, 1986.

Making a Difference, p. 65–69.Chapter 6. May Holman Making a Difference .pdf
West Australian, 2 April 1925, 12 March 1939.
Westralian Worker, 31 March 1939.
Kate White, May Holman: Australian Labor’s Pioneer Woman Parliamentarian, Labour History, 41 (November 1981), p. 110-117.
Wilson, J. Graham. Western Australia's centenary 1829-1929 : first century's progress with antecedent records 1527-1828, p. 328.