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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Goble, Dorothy Ada (1910–1990)

by Judith Starcevich

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Dorothy Ada Goble (1910-1990), politician, was born on 11 March 1910 at Richmond, Melbourne, daughter of Arthur Robert Taylor, a clerk from London, and his locally born wife Ada Elizabeth, née Deumer. Educated at North Richmond and Canterbury state schools, Dorothy completed secondary studies at University High School, where she then worked as secretary (1928-34). On 4 October 1934 at the Congregational Church, Canterbury, she married Kenneth George Goble, a stationery manufacturer.

Through the 1940s Mrs Goble became active within the Victorian division of the Liberal Party of Australia, later holding offices in the Hartwell and Blackburn branches, and becoming vice-chairman of the Victorian women’s section (1962-67) and a member of the State executive (1965-67). In April 1967 she won the Legislative Assembly seat of Mitcham, having defeated thirteen men to gain pre-selection. Her election drew considerable attention, given that she was female, 56 years old and a grandmother. She was also the first woman to be elected to the Victorian parliament in nineteen years, and the first from the Liberal Party.

Holding Mitcham until her retirement (1976), Goble was an effective local member and a gracious, if sometimes tenacious, parliamentarian. Her social conscience was unconstrained by party ideology. She believed that women should receive equal pay despite this being a policy of the Australian Labor Party. While resisting any suggestion that she was a feminist (stressing instead that she was a Liberal and woman first), she argued for women’s rights.

In 1967 Goble challenged the entitlement of women to remove their names from the jury list, insisting that with expectations of equality came acceptance of responsibility. The provision was removed in 1975. In 1971 she urged that women be admitted to the Victorian Public Service at the same level as men, objecting to an advertisement inviting `young men’ to sit an entrance examination. She returned to the issue in 1972, in response to a complaint that a woman had faced prejudice in applying for a public service cadetship. The Victorian Public Service Board lifted the bar on recruitment of women to the administrative division later that year.

Goble’s interests embraced social welfare, health and consumer affairs, with a particular commitment to improving standards of education for children, especially those with intellectual disabilities. Her concern extended to the needs of Indigenous Australians. She served on the Library (1970-76) and Subordinate Legalisation (1973-76) parliamentary committees. Unperturbed at being the only woman in the assembly, in 1971 she attended the men-only Queen’s Birthday levee at Parliament House. The last woman to confront this custom had been Fanny Brownbill over twenty years before, but she had been announced as a `gentleman’.

Outside parliament, Mrs Goble was involved in many community organisations, including the councils of Mitcham High and Technical schools, the Asthma and Alcoholism foundations of Victoria, the Nunawading Historical Society and the Mitcham Repertory Group. She was a member of the planning committee of the Maroondah Hospital and a life member of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society. Predeceased by her husband (1982), and survived by their son and daughter, Dorothy Goble died on 22 October 1990 at East Malvern and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Parliamentary Debates (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 30 Oct 1990, p 1551
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 24 Sept 1966, p 43
  • Age (Melbourne), 9 May 1967, p 31
  • Herald (Melbourne), 12 June 1971, p 2, 19 May 1975, p 15.

Citation details

Judith Starcevich, 'Goble, Dorothy Ada (1910–1990)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 27 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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