Lilian Maud Fowler


7 June 1886
Cooma, New South Wales, Australia
11 May 1954
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Alderman, Lawyer, Local government councillor and Politician
Alternative Names
  • Fowler, Elizabeth (also known as)

The first woman alderman, mayor and among the first women JPs and MPs in New South Wales, Lilian Fowler was a blunt and tenacious politician, who worked on behalf of women and the underprivileged.

Labor candidate for Newtown in 1941 (unsuccessful), 1944 (elected) and 1947 (elected). Lang Labor candidate for Newtown-Annandale in 1950. Alderman Newtown Municipal Council 1928, first woman alderman in NSW, re-elected 1935-37, 1938-40, 1941-44, 1948. Mayor 1938-39.

Lilian was educated at Cooma public school, and married Albert Edward Fowler, bootmaker, on 19 April 1909.

She became Secretary of the Newtown-Erskineville Political Labor League. For 20 years from 1917, she was electorate manager for F.M. Burke, anti-conscriptionist Labor candidate for Newtown. Her Labor activism included being a Central Executive member of ALP 1920-21, 1923-25, and President of Labor Women's Central Organising Committee, 1926-27. She was instrumental in pressuring premier Jack Lang to institute widows' pensions and child endowment. Mrs Fowler was active in Newtown Municipal Council from 1928 - she established playgrounds and instituted a 40-hour week for council employees. From 1941 she stood against her former employer Burke, as a Lang Labor candidate. She remained critical of Labor's centralist tendencies and of bureaucratic consolidation in labour and municipal politics.

The Federal electorate of Fowler is named after her, as is Lilian Fowler Place, Marrickville, NSW, and Fowler Reserve in Newtown, NSW.

Sources used to compile this entry: 'HERstory: Australian Labor Women in Federal, State and Territory Parliaments 1925-1994', Townsville, Qld., 1994; Putting Skirts on the Sacred Benches: Women Candidates for the New South Wales Parliament, Australian Women's Archives Project, 2006,; Radi, Heather, 'Fowler, Elizabeth Lilian Maud (1886 - 1954)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Smith, A. Viola, Women in Australian Parliaments and Local Governments, Past and Present, Australian Local Government Women's Association; Australian National Advisory Committee on International Women's Year, Australian Local Government Women's Association, Canberra, 1975, 148 pp; accessed 24 October 2004.

Prepared by Annette Alafaci