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Dame Nancy Buttfield DBE

1912 – 2005

Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield DBE (b. 1912) was the first South Australian woman member of Federal Parliament. Born in Adelaide, the daughter of car industry pioneer Sir Edward Holden, she grew up with Robert Menzies as a family friend, and became further interested in politics by attending meetings in a hall near Holden's Adelaide factory. In 1954 she was defeated in her challenge for the safe Labor federal seat of Adelaide, but when a senate seat fell vacant in 1955 she began her career as a Liberal senator for South Australia. During her time in Parliament, from 1955 to 1965 and again from 1968 to 1974, she lobbied for equal pay for women and for married women's right to work in the Public Service. She has served on many boards and made substantial philanthropic contributions to youth and the arts.

Updated 2018