Australia

Jocelyn Newman, former Howard government minister, dies after long illness

Former senator Jocelyn Newman has died, aged 80, after a long battle with Alzheimers. (AAP)

Jocelyn Newman, a former Howard government minister, has died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease on Easter Sunday.

Former Howard government minister Jocelyn Newman has died after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.

The Newman family said the 80-year-old died peacefully at Berry on the NSW south coast on Easter Sunday morning.

They have described her as an army wife, mother, grandmother, lawyer, farmer, hotelier, community volunteer, senator and cabinet minister and a true feminist.

Mrs Newman entered parliament in 1986.

She built up a reputation as a tough-talking Tasmanian Liberal senator, who managed to fight off uterine and breast cancer while serving as the family and community services minister in the Howard government between 1998 and 2001.

Mrs Newman was also social security minister from 1996-1998.

Jocelyn Newman with son Campbell and his wife Lisa in 2012.
Jocelyn Newman with son Campbell and his wife Lisa in 2012.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday said he had spoken to her son Campbell and offered his condolences and sympathy on behalf of the government.

"Her contribution to the Senate, to Tasmania, to the Liberal Party and to Australia was, by all measures, considerable and enduring," he said in a statement.

Mr Turnbull described Mrs Newman and her late husband Kevin, who was a minister in the Fraser government, as a "formidable political couple".

During her time in government, Mrs Newman was an "indefatigable advocate" for lower taxation and greater individual freedom, he said.

Mrs Newman also championed measures to get women into small business, along with historic reforms to the treatment of superannuation after marriage breakdowns, and measures to combat domestic violence, he said.

Liberal senator Eric Abetz said it had been a privilege to serve alongside her and he was saddened by her loss.

"She will go down in history alongside Dame Enid Lyons as one of the great female trailblazers in our democracy," he said in a statement, adding she was renowned for her strength, resilience and sense of humour.

In 2005, when she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia she said her top achievement was her 38-year marriage to Kevin.

Her late husband was environment minister in the Fraser government and her son Campbell is a former Queensland premier.

Along with Campbell, she'll be missed by daughter Kate and granddaughters Rebecca, Sarah, Emma and Samantha.

There will be a memorial service in Canberra in the next fortnight.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch