Page 2092 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 August 2022

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I learnt that anyone can make a contribution to their community and do great things. Most importantly, I learnt that I could do anything I set my mind to, as long as I persevered and worked hard.

My sister, Tammy, exemplifies these values as well. As a nurse at the Canberra Hospital, I am proud to say that the impact she makes on people’s lives is far deeper and more personal than anything we do in this chamber.

Without my family’s example and lessons, I would never have had the courage to stand up and do what is right, and they back me in every battle and every endeavour that I take on.

My eternal thanks must go to my wife, Nicole, the most intelligent and gifted woman that I know, and to my children, Cayleigh and Dylan. Politicians’ families do not choose this life so much as they have it inflicted upon them. But they stand by me at every juncture, and they inspire me every day.

My life has not followed a smooth path to this point. I did not finish school with a smooth path through to university, a set career and politics. Indeed, in 1996, when I finished school, I had given up on education so deeply and performed so poorly that there was every likelihood that I would have been on a very poor path indeed. But inertia is not destiny. With my parents’ encouragement, I fought to find a job in the Australian Public Service, and I found one as a courier, literally in the mailroom. That opportunity was the start that I needed. I worked hard, looked for ways to make a contribution and worked my way up. I enrolled in a mature-entry pathway to the University of Canberra and started my degree part time, and kept working.

I then met my wife, Nicole—a woman who had chosen to study engineering, a heavily male-dominated field; a woman who was not interested in just getting a degree to get a job, but who believed in excelling, working the hardest and achieving the best. Nicole fundamentally changed my perspective. By the last year of my degree, I was achieving academically and achieving my career goals, and I had discovered my passion for business, entrepreneurship, policymaking and politics. I do not know where I would be without her.

I must also acknowledge my children, Cayleigh and Dylan, who have endured three campaigns of hard work, long hours, excitement and, too often, disappointment. It was not until my daughter, Cayleigh, was born that I decided I could not sit around any longer and complain about the problems I could see in Canberra; if I wanted things to change for her, I had to be prepared to stand up and fight. Cayleigh is about to turn 11 and her brother, Dylan, is eight. I have contested three elections as a Liberal, and I still worry about their future. They are still my greatest inspiration.

Madam Speaker, it is a strange thing to enter the Assembly through a countback, separated from the excitement and action of an election campaign by roughly two years. It was no small thing to accept this path in life for me and for my family. In many ways, it is not so much with excitement that I speak here today as it is with a sense of responsibility and determination.

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