Geraldton’s first female MP Lara Dalton hails Edith Cowan heritage amid calls for statue

Headshot of Elise Van Aken
Elise Van AkenGeraldton Guardian
Email Elise Van Aken
Member for Geraldton Lara Dalton.
Camera IconMember for Geraldton Lara Dalton. Credit: Phoebe Pin/Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton’s first woman MP Lara Dalton supports the idea of commemorating the legacy of the first female Member of Parliament in Australia, Edith Cowan, locally.

But Ms Dalton stopped short of pledging direct support from the State Government for a statue of the Geraldton-born trailblazer.

Australian sculptor Robert Hitchcock met Geraldton Historical Society president Rita Stinson and City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn with an offer to create an Edith Cowan statue in her birthplace.

Ms Stinson met Ms Dalton last week to discuss the project.

West Australian Edith Cowan, the first Australian woman to serve as a member of any Australian parliament,is commemorated on the fifty dollar note and in the naming of Edith Cowan University.
Camera IconWest Australian Edith Cowan, the first Australian woman to serve as a member of any Australian parliament,is commemorated on the fifty dollar note and in the naming of Edith Cowan University. Credit: Supplied

“Edith Cowan is one of the great figures in Geraldton’s history and a huge inspiration to me and many others,” Ms Dalton said, adding Edith Cowan Square opposite the courthouse had “long been a place for the community to congregate on local issues”.

“Edith Cowan has fought for women’s rights, freedoms and representation,” she said.

“As the first woman in an Australian Parliament, she made so many fabulous contributions to our society, particularly in the area of women’s issues and the welfare of disadvantaged groups.”

“I am grateful to Edith Cowan and all the women who came after her, who have each made a massive contribution to ensuring the equal representation of women in all aspects of life.”

Last month was the 100th anniversary of Edith Cowan’s election to State Parliament.

Ms Dalton said it would be “fitting” to see a significant recognition of her work and contribution.

“I understand the historical society is very keen on this idea. I encourage them to work with the City on an appropriate way to commemorate her legacy,” she said.

Both the society and City support the project, with Ms Stinson saying they hoped to finish it within a year.

She did so much for women . . . she deserves to have a statue of her here. I would like to see the women of Geraldton get behind this,

she said.

Mrs Stinson said the sculpture would be 10 to 20 per cent bigger than scale and was expected to cost up to $100,000 to commission.

Mr Van Styn said the City would not fully fund the sculpture, but would support the historical society to fundraise and explore offering some endowment.

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