14. Mary “May” Alice Holman (1893-1939), politician
May Holman was born in Broken Hill, New South Wales and came to the Murchison Goldfields with her family in 1896. She was convent-educated in Dongara, a coastal town south of Geraldton, and Perth. Her mother was active in the Labor Women’s organisations and her father was the Secretary of the State branch of the Timber Workers’ Union from 1908-1925 and a Labor member of the Legislative Assembly from 1901-1921.
May Holman assisted her father in union affairs and after his death in 1925 she won the by-election for the blue ribbon seat of Forrest. She became the first Labor woman parliamentarian in Australia, and retained her seat through four elections. She represented the interests of families in the small timber settlements of her electorate, and spoke passionately on the lack of medical care, housing, schooling and the dangerous working conditions in the timber industry. She was responsible for the Timber Regulation Act 1926.
Although not considered a radical, she fought for many reforms. She worked for equal citizenship rights for women, equal pay for men and women, child endowment, raising the school leaving age to 16 and for improvements in the training and working conditions for female domestic servants.
May Holman opposed non- British migration and supported an isolationist foreign policy. In 1938 she was an advocate for the Royal Commission that was set up to look into sanitation, slum clearance, health and housing regulations in Perth. She was killed in a car accident on the day of her re-election to Parliament on 20 March 1939.