Joan Kirner, an important leading woman in Victoria’s history and the first and only female Premier of the State and a women with great social respect, has died this afternoon at the age of 76 years. Mrs Kirner contributed significantly to Victorian politics right from her first election win in 1982 until her retirement in 1992 when Jeff Kennett was elected. And after leaving parliament, she remained a driving force in women’s leadership, guiding young Labor women to join and excel in the party. The founder of EMILY’s List Australia, her achievements and support drove women to be stronger and more successful around her.
She died having fought hard against oesophageal cancer, and her family confirmed the death on Monday evening.
Julia Gillard released a statement on Twitter after her death, paying tribute to a woman who was “passionately committed to social justice”.
“We remember Joan for her commitment to education. For becoming the first women to lead the State of Victoria. For her love of family and community.After her time as Premier, Joan could have chosen a quieter and easier life.But that simply would not have been Joan. Instead, her generosity of spirit and capacity for hard work meant her formidable energy went in to ensuring more Labor women entered parliament. Labor’s affirmative action rule and the creation of Emily List would not have been possible with Joan. For a generation of a Labor women, including me, she was an inspiration and a mentor. We admired her stoicism. We celebrated her policy achievements.We were guided by her wisdom,” wrote Ms Gillard.
Therese and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Joan Kirner. A great Australian. An inspiration to Australian women.A force for good. KR
— Kevin Rudd (@MrKRudd) June 1, 2015
So very sad to hear of the passing of Joan Kirner. She was such a wonderful woman. Great sense of humour. A real cut above. Vale — Magda Szubanski (@MagdaSzubanski) June 1, 2015
Very sad to hear of the passing of Joan Kirner, a woman of substance and principle driven by a passionate commitment to social justice
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) June 1, 2015
Vale Joan Kirner indefatigable fighter for women’s rights, trailblazer, hero, mentor and friend. I salute you Joan and will miss you. — Anne Summers (@SummersAnne) June 1, 2015
Joan Kirner was a strong leader in tough times & a champion for women. She showed me great kindness & encouragement, which I treasured. Vale
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) June 1, 2015