Today I was asked by a friend and small business owner from Euroa how I became interested in politics and running for parliament. What was the key issue that triggered that interest and that decision? Whilst I gave a more expansive answer, it boils down to an extreme distain for injustice.
I remember my parents would watch 9 News, A Current Affair (back when they interviewed politicians and business leaders), then ABC News and the 7:30 Report when I was young. Whilst they rarely discussed politics with myself and my two sisters, I had a thirst for knowledge and "square eyes", resulting in my becoming very opinionated about the goings on in Canberra and the first Gulf War.
When I was beginning Kinder and Primary School and therefore getting a sense of a world outside my house and family, I was watching news items about the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Mabo Decision, Native Title and Paul Keating's Redfern Speech. Whilst I didn't understand all of the content, I recognised that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people had been and continued to be treated poorly on their lands.
As I got older, I saw and experienced Domestic Violence. I was bullied for no discernible reason at school and was dealt with harshly by teachers who misread my knowledge seeking as attention seeking or disruptiveness. In late Primary School, I saw classmates - mainly boys - who were good students and very intelligent, become labelled class clowns or trouble makers because they weren't being challenged by the class work and became bored. Their intellectual and academic needs weren't being met. In High School I saw injustice in the education system continuing to let students down.
Since entering the workforce I have seen - from the inside - how big businesses and corporations treat workers and customers poorly in favour of profits for shareholders. I have seen the injustice in government policy that has led pensioners and low income earners to forgo other expenses to pay for private health insurance because the Howard Government convinced them it was a need - despite Medicare.
Outside of school and work I have seen injustice in refugee policy, water policy, industrial relations policy, competition policy, the treatment of returned soldiers, agriculture and small business policy - the list goes on.
When employed by a company, I have always advocated for the customer first. As a small business owner, I have worked as much for the community as for myself. As an MP I will work for the whole electorate - not just my hometown of Euroa, or the larger towns of Echuca and Shepparton.
I will be visiting the western side of the electorate in the coming weeks and months and will continue to do so, because - whilst I have my own ideas and opinions - if elected I will be seeking to represent the whole electorate, not just those with my own life experiences.