Tributes for Liberal Party trailblazer Jennifer Cashmore

Former South Australian parliamentarian Jennifer Cashmore AM has been remembered as a trailblazing politician with foresight and courage following her death at 86.

Jun 11, 2024, updated Jun 11, 2024
Jennifer Cashmore AM. Photo: X

Jennifer Cashmore AM. Photo: X

Cashmore, the mother of South Australian Governor Frances Adamson, passed away at her home on Monday morning.

Her legacy has been hailed by both sides of politics, with Premier Peter Malinauskas saying, “her courage cannot be understated” and “history will judge her political record favourably”.

In 1977, Cashmore became the third woman elected to the South Australian House of Assembly, serving as the Member for Coles (now Morialta) until 1993.

She was also the second woman appointed to state cabinet, serving as Minister for Health and Tourism in the Tonkin Government from 1979 to 1982.

Jennifer Cashmore

Jennifer Cashmore (left) with ministers of the Tonkin Government at a cabinet meeting on September 24, 1979. Photo: State Library of SA via Wikimedia Commons

Deputy leader of the Opposition John Gardner said Cashmore built a strong reputation as a minister who was “assiduously across her briefs, with a passion for her areas of responsibility”.

“On top of the work she progressed in her portfolio areas, she played a key role as the responsible Minister in the House for ushering through critical legislation for establishing the Olympic Dam mine,” Gardner said.

“Now broadly supported and critical to our state’s economy, the mine was hotly opposed by the Labor Opposition at the time, and with the numbers in the House being on a knife’s edge, Minister Cashmore’s deft handling of the matter was critical to its passage.”

Following the Tonkin Government’s defeat in 1982, Cashmore remained active on the Opposition benches.

She played a key role in shaping new palliative care laws, advocating on environmental issues and even crossed the floor in 1988 to support a ban on tobacco advertising.

She is also remembered for continually raising questions in parliament about the viability of the State Bank around two years before it collapsed in 1991.

Federal Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham paying tribute to Cashmore on X.

Cashmore left politics in 1993 after unsuccessfully contesting a Liberal Party leadership ballot against John Olsen and Dean Brown a year earlier.

She remained active in public service, serving as Chair of the SA Association for Hospice and Palliative Care and a Patron of the Alzheimer’s Association SA.

She also sat on the National Childcare Accreditation Council and the inaugural board of the Environmental Protection Authority.

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Gardner said Cashmore was a mentor to many politicians who followed her, including the current Liberal parliamentary team.

“To her friends and family, Jennifer Cashmore will be keenly missed. To our state, she leaves a trailblazing legacy of achievement and service,” Gardner said.

Former Liberal Premier Steven Marshall said Cashmore was a “smart, fearless politician of unflinching honesty”.

“She led the debate on plain packaging for cigarettes, solar hydrogen and palliative care,” he said.

“Jennifer forewarned the Parliament of the State Bank collapse and was attacked for her efforts.

“Her service continued after her political career working to improve care for people with Alzheimer’s, the environment and childcare.”

Cashmore was awarded the Order of Australia in 1998.

She is survived by her three children: Frances Adamson, Governor of South Australia; Justice Christine Adamson, judge of appeal of the New South Wales Supreme Court; and Reverend Stuart Adamson, associate dean of chaplaincy and spiritual care at Morling College in Sydney.

Government House said in a statement: “In paying tribute to her late mother, the Governor said she was a remarkable woman and a courageous trailblazer in many areas, including environmental protection and renewable energy and in drawing attention to the failure of the State Bank of South Australia.

“Ms Cashmore was a lifelong campaigner for women’s equality. Through her compassion and dedication to public service, she instilled in her three children a strong sense of service and community commitment.

“Her Excellency will adjust her program of engagements and a Governor’s Deputy will be appointed.”

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