Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Members statements

Elaine McNamara and Karen Kyle

Elaine McNamara and Karen Kyle

Ms ALLAN (Bendigo East—Leader of the House, Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Minister for the Suburban Rail Loop) (12:33): I rise today to pay tribute to two great Bendigo Labor women who recently passed away. Elaine McNamara was like pepper and salt: she was in everything. She served our community in many, many different roles. She was a councillor and former mayor for the then shire of Marong, she was a member of Bendigo Community Health Services and Kangaroo Flat Community House and she was a very, very long and proud member of the Australian Labor Party. She also—this is an important part of her contribution to our community—helped found Central Victoria Group Training, the first Bendigo group apprenticeship scheme, bringing together the then four shires of Marong, Eaglehawk, Strathfieldsaye and Bendigo, and that is a great contribution to young people’s skills and careers. Elaine was most certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Karen Kyle was a long-serving secretary of Bendigo Trades Hall, the third woman to hold the role, and she was a strong and powerful voice for working people and their families. Particularly during that dark period of the 1990s, she certainly took it up to former Premier Jeff Kennett against his campaign of privatisation, the winding back of rights for workers to have access to WorkCover and the closures of schools and hospitals in our region.

Both of these women were pioneers in their roles: they advanced the cause of working people, they laid a path for other women in the labour movement in Bendigo to follow—sympathy to their families and loved ones.