Woman Best, Amelia (Millie) (1900 - 1979)


Lower Barrington, Tasmania, Australia
November 1979
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
Businesswoman, Community worker and Politician

Written by Shurlee Swain, Australian Catholic University

Millie Best was born in Lower Barrington, Tasmania in 1900. She first became active in public life through the Methodist Young People's Missionary Movement, and served as a commandant of the Voluntary Aid Detachment Canteen Services during World War II. Best had an arts and crafts business in Launceston but was also active in community organisations, including the Women Show Judges Association, the Business and Professional Women's Club, the Launceston Girl's Home, the United Nations Association, Meals on Wheels, the Good Neighbour Council and the National Council of Women. For her services to social welfare she was awarded an MBE in 1956

Best was active in the Liberal Party from its foundation and held office at both state and federal levels during the 1950s. Although she served two brief terms in the Tasmanian House of Assembly (1955-6 and 1958-9), one of the first two women to be elected, she believed that she could make a greater contribution in the party machine rather than the parliament, declaring 'I like to organise things' (Significant Tasmanian Women website). She saw her role as 'fight[ing] every inch of the way to see women within the political set-up ... working for the needs of the nation as a whole' and believed that in the post-war world 'men ... had been educated to the need of the influence of women, and were aware of the importance of having the feminine point of view expressed in matters vital to them' (Advocate, 20 November 1953). She claimed never to have felt discriminated against because she was a woman (Significant Tasmanian Women website).

Best, who never married, died in Launceston in November 1979.

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