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Janet Frances POWELL

member of the Australian Senate

Janet Frances POWELL, Federal Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Democrats. Women's Electoral Lobby; Australian Conservation Foundation; Amnesty International and Amnesty International Parliamentary Group; World Women Parliamentarians for Peace; Inter Parliamentary Union; Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; Friends of the Earth.


POWELL, Janet Frances was born on September 29, 1942 in Nhill, Victoria, Australia.


A native of Nhill, Victoria, Powell was educated at Ballarat Grammar School and Nhill High School. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma of Education.


Convener, Australian Democrats National Rural Policy, 1980-1982. Senior Vice-President, Australian Democrats, Victoria, 1982-1983 and 1983-1984. President, Australian Democrats, Victoria, 1983-1984 and 1984-1985.

National Deputy President, Australian Democrats, 1984-1985 and 1985-1986. Chosen by Parliament to represent Victoria in the Senate, 1986 and elected, since 1987. Temporary Chairwoman of Committees, 1987-1988.

Spokesperson for Democrats on Social Security, Administrative Services, Consumer Affairs, Primary Industry (from Primary Industry and Energy), Communications (from Transport and Communications), Local Government, 198790. Committee Service: Member of the Senate Standing Committee for Privileges, 1987-1990. For Scrutiny of Bills, 1987-1990.

Member of the Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing Committee for Transport, Communications and Infrastructure, 1987-1990. For Legal and Constitutional Affairs, 1987-1990. Member of the Senate Select Committee for Television Equalisation, 198687.

Leader of Federal Parliament, since 1990. Professional career: teacher.


  • In 1986, she was appointed a Democrat senator for Victoria, upon the resignation of the party's founder, Don Chipp. In 1996, she campaigned for Greens leader Bob Brown and, in 2004, she joined the Australian Greens, citing that they were more capable of achieving the function of a third force in Australian politics. In the 2012 Queen's Birthday Honours list, she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, in recognition of her service to the Parliament and people of Australia, "particularly through leadership of YWCA Victoria".


Powell was active in the Australian Democrats 1980s, serving as the party's Victorian state president (1983–85) and a national deputy president (1984–86). One suggested reason for the coup was that she was controversially negotiating a coalition or merger with the Greens. In the 2006 Victorian state election she unsuccessfully stood for the Greens in the Eastern Metropolitan Region.


Women's Electoral Lobby. Australian Conservation Foundation. Amnesty International and Amnesty International Parliamentary Group.

World Women Parliamentarians for Peace. Inter Parliamentary Union. Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.

Friends of the Earth.