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Born in Adelaide, Amanda Vanstone studied arts and law at the University of Adelaide and before entering politics worked in the legal area, retailing and small business.
Amanda entered the Australian Parliament in 1984 and was a Liberal senator for South Australia from 1984 to 2007. She was the only female member of the Howard cabinet following the 1996 election that brought the Coalition to power. She held several ministerial portfolios in the Howard government including minister for employment, education, training and youth affairs, minister for justice and customs, minister for family and community services, minister assisting the prime minister for the status of women, minister for immigration and multicultural and Indigenous affairs, and minister assisting the prime minister for reconciliation.
After her resignation from the Senate in 2007, Amanda served as the Australian ambassador to Italy until July 2010. Amanda was a commissioner on the Federal Commission of Audit in 2013-March 2014.