Pam Buchanan

Pamela Ann Buchanan (née Slocombe; 6 February 1937 – 31 March 1992) was an Australian politician who was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia between 1983 and 1992. She represented the Labor Party for the majority of her time in parliament, and was a minister in the Lawrence government, but resigned to sit as an independent in 1991.

Pam Buchanan
Member of the Legislative Assembly
of Western Australia
In office
19 February 1983 – 4 February 1989
Preceded byBrian Sodeman
Succeeded byLarry Graham
In office
4 February 1989 – 3 March 1992
Preceded byNone (new creation)
Succeeded byFred Riebeling
Personal details
Pamela Ann Slocombe

(1937-02-06)6 February 1937
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Died31 March 1992(1992-03-31) (aged 55)
Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia
Political partyLabor (to 1991)
Independent (from 1991)

Buchanan was born in Perth to Doris May (née Brittain) and Walter Scott Slocombe. She attended Perth Girls' High School, and later went on to Perth Technical College. From 1967 to 1976, she was a preschool administrator in Roebourne, in the state's north-west, where she also ran an adult education centre for Aboriginals. A member of the Labor Party from 1976, from 1980 to 1982 Buchanan was an assistant in the Karratha office of Peter Dowding, a member of the Legislative Council for North Province and also a future premier.[1] Later president of the party's Wickham branch, she ran for the seat of Pilbara at the 1983 state election, winning with 58.77% of the vote. She replaced the retiring Liberal member, Brian Sodeman, who had held the seat since 1974. Buchanan increased her majority to 64.67% at the 1986 election,[2] after which she was made a government whip.[1]

At the 1989 election, Buchanan successfully transferred to the newly recreated seat of Ashburton, with her replacement in Pilbara, Larry Graham, retaining that seat for Labor.[3] The re-elected Dowding government persisted only until February 1990, when it was replaced by the Lawrence government following Dowding's forced resignation. New premier Carmen Lawrence elevated Buchanan to the ministry as Minister for Works and Services and Minister for Regional Development. She was also made assistant minister to Lawrence in her capacity as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. However, the regional development portfolio was abolished in December 1990, and Buchanan lost her remaining portfolios in February 1991, as part of a ministerial reshuffle prompted by an internal spill motion. Jeff Carr and Gavan Troy were also removed as ministers, with Carr consequently resigning from parliament. Buchanan herself resigned to sit as an independent on 1 February 1991, before the new ministry was sworn in four days later.[1] She consequently became the first woman in the Parliament of Western Australia to sit as an independent.[4] Buchanan resigned due to ill health just over a year later, in March 1992, and died at the end of that month, aged 55. She had married George Maitland Buchanan in April 1957, with whom she had two daughters.[1] Her resignation prompted a by-election in Ashburton, which was won by the Labor candidate Fred Riebeling.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Black, David; Bolton, Geoffrey (2011). Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia, Volume Two 1930–2010 (Revised Edition). Parliament of Western Australia. pp. 29–30. ISBN 1920830308.
  2. ^ Black, David; Prescott, Valerie (1997). Election statistics, Legislative Assembly of Western Australia, 1890-1996. Perth: Parliamentary History Project. p. 289. ISBN 0-7309-8409-5.
  3. ^ a b Black and Prescott (1997), p. 15.
  4. ^ Liz Constable was the first woman elected to parliament standing as an independent, winning a by-election in July 1991.
Parliament of Western Australia
Preceded by
Brian Sodeman
Member for Pilbara
Succeeded by
Larry Graham
Preceded by
seat created
Member for Ashburton
Succeeded by
Fred Riebeling
Political offices
Preceded by
Yvonne Henderson
Minister for Works and Services
Succeeded by
position abolished
Preceded by
Gordon Hill
Minister for Regional Development
Succeeded by
position abolished
Preceded by
Carmen Lawrence
Assistant Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
Succeeded by
Judyth Watson