International Womens’ Day is a good time to honour and celebrate one of our eminent Glennie Old Girls, Dame Annabelle Rankin. She is one among many Glennie girls who have made significant and lasting achievements.
Dame Annabelle Rankin 1908-1986
The career of Dame Annabelle Jane Rankin, who died in Brisbane in July 1986, included several firsts.
She was born in Brisbane on 28 July 1908, the daughter of Colonel D.D.W. Rankin, a former Queensland Parliamentarian and Minister for Railways for 13 years.
Annabelle was educated in Childers, Howard and as a boarder at The Glennie School, Toowoomba where she was a Prefect. After school, she travelled widely. In London, she worked in the slums with refugees from the Spanish civil war. During World War II, she was State Secretary of the Girl Guides’ Association and the assistant-commissioner of the Young Women’s Christian Association. She travelled with Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady of USA, and Lady Gowrie, wife of the Governor-General on their visits to the troops
In 1946, she was elected to the Senate as a Queensland Liberal – the first Queensland woman to enter Federal Parliament. She became the first woman in the British Commonwealth to serve in the position of Government Whip.
She was twice re-elected to the Senate and was Housing Minister for 1966-1971, the first woman to hold a Federal Ministry.
Her commitment to build vibrant communities saw her active in the Australian Red Cross Society, Qld Country Womens’ Association, the Victoria League, the Royal Empire Society and the Children’s Book Council of Australia.
In 1957, she was made a Dame of the British Empire, and the culmination of her career came after 25 years in Parliament when she was appointed in June 1971, as Australian High Commissioner to New Zealand. In the 1984 electoral redistribution, the new Queensland seat of Rankin was named for her.
Dame Annabelle Rankin was a talented and gracious lady, who commanded respect from all in every aspect of her life. She has been described as, “active, vigorous and strong-willed; tireless and uncompromising; cheerful and friendly”. Truly she was “all she could be”.
Mrs Noeleen Fleming