Janine Haines

Quick Facts

  • Name: Janine Haines
  • Born: May 8, 1945 Tanunda, South Australia.
  • Died: November 20, 2004
  • First woman to lead an Australian political Party
  • Australian Democrats leader, 1986–90
  • Member of the Order of Australia, 2001


Janine Haines was the first woman to lead a parliamentary party in Australia. A member of the Australian Democrats, Haines was appointed to the Senate by the South Australian Parliament in 1977 to fill a casual vacancy. She did not contest the Senate elections in 1977, making way on the Australian Democrats ticket for the better known Don Chipp, but re-entered the Senate in 1980. In 1986, she succeeded Don Chipp as the leader of the Australian Democrats in the Senate. Senator Haines had great personal popularity with voters and was well known for campaigning for equal opportunity, anti-discrimination and privacy rights for Australian citizens. Her book about women in parliament, Suffrage to Sufferance, is still used as a text in high schools and at universities.

Janine Haines was a Mathematics and English teacher until, at the age of 32, she entered politics. In 1986, when Haines became leader of the Australian Democrats, she broke new ground for Australian women in politics. Among the many women, for whom she was a role model were those female leaders of the Australian Democrats who would succeed her, including Senator Natasha Stott Despoja, who would become the youngest person to lead a political party in Australia.

Under Senator Haines' leadership, the Australian Democrats held the balance of power in the Senate and she significantly increased the Party's electoral support. A capable leader, Haines used her Party’s position in the Senate to negotiate changes to proposed government legislation in areas such as health care and equal opportunity for women. She was also instrumental in furthering the Senate’s role as a 'house of review' with respect to government legislation, and she is credited with enhancing Senate Committees’ capacities to scrutinise legislation and government performance.

At the peak of her own and the Australian Democrats' electoral popularity in 1990, Janine Haines resigned from the Senate to contest the South Australian House of Representatives seat of Kingston, promising not to return to the Senate should she fail in her bid. She came close to winning, a feat that would have given the Australian Democrats the representation in the House of Representatives that they had long coveted.

After leaving politics, Janine Haines was on a range of committees and boards. She was head of the Australian Privacy Charter Council and also Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Adelaide University. Janine Haines died in 2004 aged 59 as the result of a long illness. Her legacy, as a role model to women in politics, and as a strong spokesperson for anti-discrimination and equal opportunity, endures.



  • Haines, Janine, Suffrage to Sufferance: One Hundred Years of Women in Politics, Allen & Unwin
  • Caine, Barbara (ed), Australian Feminism: A Companion, Oxford University Press
  • Lake, Marilyn, Getting Equal: The History of Australian Feminism, Allen & Unwin