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Awarded for service to Government, service to the Community
Entered on roll: 2005
As the world has been run by men for so long, and they do not appear to have made a very good job of it, isn’t it time we women tried to use more influence in national affairs? It is no use just sitting back and bewailing the state of the world and thinking how helpless each of us is to alter it. Everyone can do some little thing to help – mothers and teacher especially. (Margaret McIntyre speech to League of Remembrance Launceston 1948)
Born in a tent in Maitland, in New South Wales, where her geologist father was surveying coalfields, Margaret McIntyre’s aspirations were fostered by her mother, Caroline David, who was the first woman principal of Hurlstone Teachers Training College. Margaret graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1907. She married in 1908 and had two sons and two daughters. After World War I, the family settled in Launceston.
Margaret became involved in many community activities and her interests included baby care, health, youth, education and women’s issues. She was a founding member, President and producer of the Launceston Players. She believed drama would help to foster team spirit in young people and actively supported the establishment of a youth drama group in Invermay. At the time of her death, Margaret was Acting Chief Commissioner of the Girl Guides and the State Commissioner for the Girl Guides. The Guides named their Northern headquarters Margaret McIntyre House in her memory.
Margaret was the first northern President of the Women Graduates’ Association, President of the National Council of Women and Vice-President of the YWCA and the Anzac Hostel Women’s League of Remembrance. She was a member of the Queen Victoria Hospital Board, the ABC Advisory Committee and the Ashley Boys Home.
Margaret was active in the Launceston Progressive Education Group that lobbied for the establishment of the G V Brooks and Newnham Community Schools in the late 1940s.
In 1947, she was awarded an Order of the British Empire for her community services. In 1948, Margaret was approached by local business leaders to stand as an independent for the seat of Cornwall in the Legislative Council. The first woman elected to the Tasmanian Parliament, Margaret defeated the sitting member with a clear majority. At that stage, voting for the Legislative Council was not universal and was subject to property qualifications. The only women who were entitled to vote were returned servicewomen and nurses who had served in World War I. Margaret was sworn in on 29 June 1948. She was elected at a tumultuous time in Tasmanian politics and during her first weeks of sitting, was one of three Legislative Councillors who voted against an attempt to block supply. Margaret died tragically less than six months after her election in a plane crash. She was returning from a conference of the National Council of Women in Brisbane.