In the beginning
The Making of a Not-So-Accidental Politician
Ann Symonds described herself an accidental politician and, when she arrived in the Legislative Council to fill a casual vacancy, some of her Labor colleagues were inclined to agree. Who was this housewife from the affluent Eastern Suburbs of Sydney? Barney French, MLC, heard her fighting ‘maiden’ speech and wondered aloud ‘What would you know about the workers?’ Ann’s male colleagues soon discovered that she was no privileged newcomer parachuted into a Council seat, but her path to Labor activism had been rather different from their own.
A Good Catholic Girl
Elizabeth Ann Burley (always known as Ann) was born in Murwillumbah on 12 July 1939. Welcoming a child on ‘the Twelfth’ – the day when Ulster Protestants celebrate the triumphs of William of Orange – was mortifying to her mother, Jean, and the rest of Ann’s Catholic family. Even her father Frank, who ‘had a healthy disrespect for the Church’ was reluctant to inform his parents about the birthday.
Read more: The Making of an Accidental Politician