Lyn Allison

Lynette Fay Allison (born 21 October 1946) is an Australian politician. She was a member of the Australian Senate from 1996 to 2008, representing the state of Victoria. As of October 2019 she is the national president of the Australian Democrats, and was instrumental in the resurrection of the party.[1]

Lyn Allison
Lyn Allison Portrait 2010.jpg
President of the Australian Democrats
Assumed office
5 October 2019
Vice President(s)
  • Tim Burrow
  • Andrew Castrique
  • Craig Hill
Preceded byElisa Resce
9th Leader of the Australian Democrats
In office
3 November 2004 – 30 June 2008
DeputyAndrew Bartlett
Preceded byAndrew Bartlett
Succeeded byDarren Churchill
8th Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats
In office
30 June 2002 – 3 November 2004
LeaderAndrew Bartlett
Preceded byAden Ridgeway
Succeeded byAndrew Bartlett
Senator for Victoria
In office
1 July 1996 – 30 June 2008
Preceded bySiegfried Spindler
Succeeded byDavid Feeney
Personal details
Lynette Fay Allison

(1946-10-21) 21 October 1946 (age 74)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Political partyAustralian Democrats
Domestic partnerPeter Hudson
(esp. 1981)
EducationViewbank College
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
OccupationSchool teacher
(St Joseph's Technical School)
(Department of Education)

Early life and backgroundEdit

Allison was born in Melbourne, Victoria, and grew up in the suburb of Fairfield with her younger brother and sister. Her father was a fitter and turner and her mother was involved in the local church, bowls club, and school tuckshop. Allison was educated at Rosanna High School, and left briefly in year 10 to become a dental nurse, before returning to complete high school. From 1964 to 1986 she worked as an administrator. She gained a Bachelor of Education at the University of Melbourne, and from 1987 to 1991 was a high school art teacher at St Joseph's Technical School Abbotsford and St Paul's College in Altona North.[2][3]

Allison married when she was 21 years old, and three years later they bought a home in East St Kilda for about $11,000. They later divorced. She now lives in Port Melbourne with her long-term partner.[2]

She was Director of the Employment and Economic Development Corporation.

Allison is an atheist[4] who spoke first for the affirmative in a 2008 Australian Radio National debate "Would We Be Better Off Without Religion?".[5]

She was awarded the Australian Humanist of the Year award in 2008 for her work in education, environment and women's rights.[6]

Political careerEdit

Allison was an Independent councillor of the City of Port Melbourne from 1992 to 1994.[7]

In the 1990 federal election Allison stood as a Greens candidate in the division of Throsby, resulting in 1.7% of the vote. In 1994 Allison contested the state by-election for the Victorian Legislative Assembly district of Williamstown after the resignation of Joan Kirner, the former Premier of Victoria. Standing as the Democrat candidate, Allison gained 39% of the two-candidate preferred vote, with the seat won by Labor candidate Steve Bracks.

Australian SenateEdit

Allison won pre-selection on the Democrats ticket, was elected to the Australian Senate in 1996, and re-elected for a second term in the 2001 federal election.

Between 1998 and 2006, Allison served on the Legislation and References Committees for Environment, Recreation (later Information Technology), Communications and the Arts; and for Community Affairs. She served as Senate Select for Superannuation (1996–98); the Victorian Casino Inquiry (1996); the Lucas Heights Reactor (2000); Medicare (2003–04); and Mental Health (2005). From 1999 to 2001 Allison chaired an inquiry into the health effects of mobile phone towers.[8] In 2002 she was a member of the Parliamentary Delegation to New Zealand.

In August 2002 Allison, along with fellow senators Aden Ridgeway, John Cherry, and Andrew Murray, succeeded in forcing Natasha Stott Despoja to resign from leadership. The media did not portray the spill kindly, labelling them the 'Gang of Four'.[9] Allison was Deputy Leader of the Australian Democrats from 2002 to 2004. On 3 November 2004, following the resignation of Andrew Bartlett after the October 2004 election, she was elected unopposed as Leader. She took over the leadership at a time when the Democrats were at their lowest ever public opinion rating since the party was founded in 1977.

On 5 December 2006, Allison introduced into the Senate a bill titled the Cluster Munitions (Prohibition) Bill 2006, which, if enacted, would prevent Australia from using, possessing and manufacturing cluster munitions. Two months earlier, she had travelled to Lebanon to survey the damage caused by cluster munition use in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. Allison, a leading feminist in the Australian parliament, was among a cross-party group of female parliamentarians who introduced legislation into parliament in 2006 which effectively legalised the supply of the abortion pill RU486. She advocated for federal government funding for public schools and nuclear disarmament.[10]

The 2007 ElectionEdit

The 2007 federal election, including a half-Senate election, was called for 24 November, and the Democrats national campaign launched in Melbourne, Allison's home state, on 10 November.[11][12] The official slogan 'bring back balance' referred to the contest for the balance of power in the Senate. Allison's seat was up for election along with three other Democrats senators (Natasha Stott-Despoja, Andrew Murray and Andrew Bartlett) and was considered vulnerable after the Democrats poor performance in the 2004 election when the last Senate seat was won by Family First and the Coalition government gained control of the Senate for the first time in over 25 years.[13][14]

During the 2007 election campaign, Allison announced a national preference deal with the Greens[15] to increase the chance of a progressive party taking the balance of power in the Senate. Allison joined Bob Brown and Kate Lundy in a joint political advertisement sponsored by GetUp! urging voters to prevent the Senate from becoming a rubber stamp for the government of the day.[16]

Allison received the support of community and interest groups such as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, for her support for refugees and asylum seekers;[17] the Friends of the ABC, for promoting public broadcasting;[18] and endorsements by prominent women and feminists such as Barbara Spalding and Anne Summers.

The Democrats failed to retain their seats in the Senate, with Allison losing her seat to the Labor Party candidate David Feeney. Allison's term expired on 30 June 2008, leaving the Australian Democrats with no federal representation for the first time since its founding in 1977.

Return to politicsEdit

Allison is a board member of eight organisations including Berry Street, Vision Australia, Alzheimer's Australia and her local nursing home.[2] In 2012 Lyn Allison was inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women for being a member of the Australian Senate from 1996 to 2008.

On 5 October, Allison became the 12th President of the Australian Democrats - resuming an active role within the party.



  1. ^ "Elisa Resce - Australian Democrats". Retrieved 13 October 2019 – via Facebook.
  2. ^ a b c "Relishing the silence of a busy life beyond Parliament". The Sydney Morning Herald. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2017.
  3. ^ 7111, corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, Canberra, ACT, 2600; contact=+61 2 6277. "Former Senator Lyn Allison". Retrieved 7 July 2017.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Ever Wondered Why God is a Bloke? pp 279-284 in Bonett, Warren (Editor). 2010. The Australian Book of Atheism. Melbourne, Vic: Scribe "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Would We Be Better Off Without Religion?, Australian Broadcasting Corporation
  6. ^ Australian Humanist of the year awards 2000 to current.
  7. ^ Ainsley Symons (2012), "The Democrats and Local Government. Were they ever a threat to the ALP?" in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch) No. 274, Page 7.
  8. ^ "Parliament of Australia:Senate:Committees:Environment, Communications, Information Technology and the Arts Committee:Inquiry into Electromagnetic Radiation". Archived from the original on 21 December 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  9. ^ Millett, Michael. "Savaged by the ferals at the bottom of the garden", The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 22 August 2002. Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  10. ^ Wells, Tom (1 May 2007). "A madness that threatens us all | Herald Sun". Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  11. ^ "Give us back Senate power: Democrats – Breaking News – National – Breaking News". The Sydney Morning Herald. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  12. ^ "Defiant Democrats launch campaign – Federal Election 2007 News". The Age. 10 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  13. ^ "Democrats' Lyn Allison talks up her chances of winning seat". The Age. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  14. ^ Mark, David (14 November 2007). "Allison rejects Democrats facing ruin – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  15. ^ "Greens, Democrats agree on preferences swap – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  16. ^ "Labor, Democrats, Greens unite in ad – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 28 October 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  17. ^ "Labor and Coalition score badly on refugees – FederalElection2007News". The Sydney Morning Herald. 3 November 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 December 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)


External linksEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Bartlett
Leader of the Australian Democrats
Succeeded by
Darren Churchill