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SA Firsts - Timeline for South Australian firsts

South Australia has achieved a notable list of parliamentary "firsts". It was the Australian or world leader in many reforms through legislation and other changes to our system of government, particularly in establishing a democratic system of government and extending the political and social rights of its citizens.

Democracy and human rights in the 19th century



South Australia's foundation incorporated ideas of social and political freedom that were among the most advanced of their time.

Crown Land was sold, not given away. The money raised was used to fund the immigration of the respectable poor, to provide a labouring class and to encourage a class of yeoman farmers.

There was no dominant religion in the colony and no government control of religion.

South Australia was promised representative government when it reached a minimum population size.

Support for democratic government and religious freedom remained powerful forces in the colony.



The City of Adelaide is the first elected town council in Australia.



South Australia is the first Australian colony to adopt the legal provision that evidence from Aborigines could be accepted in courts of law.



The new, partly elected, Legislative Council puts an end to State Aid to religion - the first part of the British Empire to cut the links between government and the church.



South Australia's new democratic Constitution is one of the most democratic in the world, ahead of the other Australian colonies, the UK and most European countries.

It includes:
Adult male suffrage (including Aboriginal men).
Secret ballot.
No plural voting.
No property qualification for Members of the House of Assembly
A relatively low property qualification for Members of the Legislative Council




South Australia is the first part of the British Empire to legalise trade unions.



Four United Labor Party candidates are elected to Parliament, the first endorsed Labor members in Australia.



Parliament passes the Constitutional Amendment Act and South Australia becomes the first colony in Australia and the fourth place in the world to grant adult women the right to vote and the first in the world to grant them the right to stand as Members of Parliament.
The right to vote includes Aboriginal women.



Women vote in a general election for the first time in Australia and the second time anywhere in the world.