What is your job?
I’m the Member for Northern Victoria, which means I am the Upper House Government representative for this region.
Is it something you always wanted to do?
No. I grew up in Benalla, and I was the first person in my family to complete year 12 and go to university. I studied law. That was almost accidental because I didn’t think I had the marks to get in, but I found out I did. I went to Deakin – a big move for a country kid. I lived in a share house with four other Benalla kids. While I was studying I got a job caring for people with intellectual disabilities, so uni and that work tracked along with a passion for advocacy for very vulnerable peo- ple. When I finished law I decided I wasn’t attracted by the combat of court. I was lost for a while, so I went to Perth with some friends. I wanted to stay in advocacy so I answered an ad for a junior lawyer with the Australian Services Union. I had done well in industrial relations in uni, so that job transitioned my passion for advocacy for the disabled to advocacy for workers’ rights. I also worked as a security guard for a pub: that was fun. Then I started to find Perth a bit far away so I transferred to the Melbourne office of the ASU. I was only there for 12 months when I got the opportunity to work for Rob Hulls, the Minister for Industrial Relations. That was my introduction to politics.
How did you get this current position?
I went to work for Daniel Andrews as his legal advisor. Eight weeks before the 2014 elections a candidate had to withdraw for health reasons and I was given the opportunity to run for Northern Victoria. The election was very tight in the upper house and I found out after three weeks I had got in by 124 votes. The great advantage of being such a marginal MP is that I don’t take anything for granted. I do what I can while I can.
What brings you to the Valley?
My region is massive, so I don’t get to the Valley as often as I’d like. My focus is on education, jobs and health, but obviously I am asked to resolve issues and get community projects up. I was recently in Mt Beauty to announce the outcome of the Pick My Project grants, where two local organisations received $200,000 each to develop their visions.