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Broadening Democracy

Payment of Members

In South Australia's new Parliament all adult men who could vote were also eligible to stand as candidates. But there was no salary for members, so in practice Parliament was open only to men who had an independent income from land, business or a profession.

In 1887, Parliament passed an Act to give Members of Parliament a salary of £200 a year. This opened up Parliament and political life to ordinary wage earners. This and the founding of the United Trades and Labor Council three years before was the start of greater involvement of working men in politics and contributed to the formation of the Labor Party in 1891.

At this time, women could not vote and were not involved in politics. But as the trade union movement developed and the campaign for women to gain the vote got under way, women became involved in trade unions and in campaigns for better conditions for working women. In the 20th Century working women also became active in seeking election to Parliament.