Labor is deeply saddened by the passing of the Honourable Susan Ryan AO.
We remember Susan not just for the things she did first. We remember her for the legacy she leaves.
She changed Australia for the better. Before her, Australian women were – in so many ways – second-class citizens.
She was responsible for so many of Labor’s greatest modernising reforms, including the Sex Discrimination Act.
Until then, it had been legal to discriminate on the basis of gender, marital status or pregnancy. Women were locked out of education, jobs and opportunity; refused access to home finance and faced the sack for being pregnant.
As unremarkable as this reform might sound today, Susan fought widespread opposition. 26 members of the House of Representatives voted against it.
Susan was also instrumental to the Equal Employment Opportunity and the Affirmative Action Act, and drove improvements in perhaps the most powerful equaliser: education.
As Education Minister, she was responsible for seeing more Australians complete school and increasing participation in tertiary education.
Her life after politics was also dedicated to bettering rights and equality, serving as the Age Discrimination Commissioner and later the Disability Discrimination Commissioner.
Susan was also a strong advocate for superannuation as head of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia.
Outside of her career, she spent time mentoring those within the labour movement who sought her trailblazing advice.
We have much work to do in continuing to advance her legacy, toward a truly equal Australia.
The Australian Labor Party give condolences to all Susan’s family and loved ones.
The entire movement mourns the passing of one of our greatest.