The Chesterfield woman who became the ‘mother of the Australian Labour Party’

One hundred years ago this month, Australia mourned the death of one of its  greatest trade unionists and suffragists, Emma Miller. Today, she is still hailed as the ‘Mother of the Australian Labour Party’, yet, as Fiona Stubbs discovers, her egalitarian ideals were formed far away, in Chesterfield, at the height of the Chartist movement.

ON Saturday January 20, 1917, Emma Miller took to the stand in Queensland’s Toowoomba Botanic Gardens, and urged women – as she had so often before – to “play a part in the Labour movement as much as men.” Though physically frail, her passion for equality and workers’ rights burned as strongly as ever. Two days later, Emma died of cancer, aged 77…

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