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Irene Maud Longman (1877–1964)

by Mary O'Keeffe

This article was published:

Irene Maud Longman (1877-1964), politician and community worker, was born on 24 April 1877 at Franklin, Tasmania, daughter of Rev. James Molineux Bayley and his wife Mary Alice, née Frencham. Her father, a Congregational minister, had moved to Queensland by 1895, his last parish being Toowoomba. Irene was educated at Sydney Girls' High School and Sydney Church of England Girls' Grammar School, obtained a kindergarten diploma and taught at Normanhurst and at the Sydney and Rockhampton Girls' Grammar schools. On 29 January 1904 at Toowoomba she married Albert Heber Longman; they were to be childless. She helped him to run his Toowoomba newspaper and joined him in zoological research. They moved to Brisbane in 1911 where in 1913-15 she was a supervisor and trainer of students for the recently established Crèche and Kindergarten Association.

Mrs Longman was interested in a wide range of social issues, including town planning and the preservation of native plants, but her work was principally in the field of the welfare of women and especially children—from the movement to establish baby clinics to the effects of the newly popular motion pictures on young minds. She was first secretary of the Playground Association of Queensland. She was particularly interested in the welfare of the mentally handicapped, and in 1922 led a deputation to the secretary for public instruction which brought about establishment of opportunity classes for the intellectually backward.

President of the Queensland branch of the National Council of Women in 1920-24 and subsequently honorary life member, she was nominated in 1929 by the Queensland Women's Electoral League as a candidate in the State election. The first woman ever to stand for parliament in Queensland, she won Bulimba from Labor for the Country and Progressive National Party. During her term in parliament Longman was responsible for the appointment of the first women police in Queensland, for changing the venue of the Children's Court from its meeting place in the precinct of the Police Court, and for the appointment of an advisory panel of one man and one woman in very difficult cases of juvenile delinquency. An earnest, vivacious speaker with a pleasant contralto voice and sparkling repartee on the platform, she could handle a lively meeting with ease. She was an avid reader in the parliamentary library. Her term, however, was short, for she lost her seat in the landslide which swept away the Moore government in 1932. It was a lasting disappointment to her that no woman succeeded in following her into State parliament during her lifetime.

Irene Longman's interest in politics, economics and social questions continued. She was vice-president of the Lyceum Club, vice-president of the Queensland Women's Peace Movement and president of the Association for the Welfare of Mental Deficients, Queensland. Her recreations were walking and bridge. She died on 29 July 1964 in Brisbane and was cremated.

Her two brothers were also parliamentarians, Percy Molineux Bayley as Farmers' Union and Independent member of the Legislative Assembly for Pittsworth in 1915-20, and James Garfield Bayley as Nationalist member of the House of Representatives for Oxley in 1917-31 and M.L.A. for Wynnum in 1933-35.

Select Bibliography

  • Brisbane Centenary Official Historical Souvenir (Brisb, 1924)
  • C. A. Bernays, Queensland—Our Seventh Political Decade, 1920-1930 (Syd, 1931)
  • The First Fifty Years in the History of the National Council of Women of Queensland (Brisb, 1955)
  • Brisbane Kindergarten Teachers' College
  • Diamond Jubilee Souvenir (Brisb, 1972)
  • M. Sawer, A Woman's Place (Lond, 1984)
  • Parliamentary Debates (Queensland), 1964-65, p 11
  • Woman's World, 1 Feb 1929, p 73
  • Daily Mail (Brisbane), 30 Apr, 13, 14, 23 May 1929
  • Queenslander, 16 May 1929, 21 Jan 1932, 23 Jan 1936
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 28 Aug 1924, 17 Apr, 14 May 1929, 31 July 1964.

Citation details

Mary O'Keeffe, 'Longman, Irene Maud (1877–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 14 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

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