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Agitating for the Future

I have spent the last twelve months in the ‘Future of Work’ portfolio focusing on technological change and the profound impact it will have on employment through automation, alteration and addition. Automation will change a number of jobs fundamentally, often to the point where they no longer exist. Alteration means that time will be ‘freed up’ through the use of…

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I’ll Have The Salad Thanks!

My portfolios of Citizenship & Multicultural Australia, Environment & Water and the Arts capture much of the conversation about national identity. They cover the land and its people and the creative ways in which we express who we are. Add in Indigenous Affairs and I’d probably have the lot. The stories that we tell help to form and shape our…

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Equality for All

When I was in my late 20s, I was appointed General Counsel for a major corporation after spending my early career in private practice predominantly in litigation. At the time the reaction from the senior ranks of the male dominated Melbourne legal fraternity was one of shock and surprise – mixed with a touch of resentment. Who does this young…

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True and Substantive Equality

When I think about the values I bring to parliament, I think about my upbringing and the experiences I had as a child. For each of us, it’s typically those early experiences that are pieced together to form our adult selves. It’s funny what you remember from your childhood that hasn’t healed or faded with time. When I reflect on…

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Creating An Impact

I started my career as a management consultant, where I was constantly encouraged to focus on the impact I was having on clients and on colleagues. I realised very quickly that creating an impact was a natural mission for me. It was exciting to discover that what drove me as a person, was in fact the essence of my job….

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The Indi Way

I’m a storyteller, and in many ways an accidental politician. How I interpret what we’re doing – what we call the Indi Way – frequently changes. The Indi Way grew out of a desire to represent the young people from my electorate who initially pushed me into standing. They said, “We want to come back to live in the country…

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Listening to Unheard Voices

One of the beauties of civilisation is learning from geniuses. For millennia, people have been imparting useful knowledge through song lines and storylines. Life is a personal journey, with personal battles, but you can pick up some battle skills by reading and listening. Reading enables us to better understand the world and gain insights into human nature; our own mortality,…

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Why The Environment?

My Mum was what you might call a practical environmentalist. Her parents spent a big part of their life in Tasmania, so from an early age Christmas presents were Wilderness Society diaries and pictures of Tasmanian forests. Through Mum’s influence, I understood very clearly that there’s only one planet. We only get to use natural resources once and the current…

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Taking Your Chances For Reform, The Labor Way

I came into parliament in 1996, after Labor suffered a terrible election defeat. Even though we were in opposition, as a new member of parliament, it was an exciting time for me. Being in opposition meant that I had time to learn; to understand how parliament works, and how to be an active member of parliament. Prior to that, I’d…

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The National Interest

I came into parliament in 2001 as the Labor Party’s member for Calwell, the same year as Sophie Mirabella, the Liberal Party’s former member for Indi. Sophie and I quickly developed a good rapport which we maintain to this day. We have a very different way of seeing things but there are elements of commonality, partly due to our shared…

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Hope Is The Best Defence

It’s no surprise that the way people represent themselves in Parliament reflects the way that they’ve been brought up and the places they’ve grown up in. For me, I’m a product of the Dandenong Ranges. The environment means a lot to me, as mine was a life spent outdoors, firstly as a Queen’s scout and then in my first jobs…

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Values, Climate Change and the Suspension of Rationality

When I came into Federal Parliament I brought with me a commitment to justice and to fairness, and a commitment to achieving change in Australian society. I think that Australia can be made a fairer place. We have a great starting point, which is a shared understanding in the Australian community that fairness is worth striving for. I’m happily part…

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Literature that Nourishes the Soul

Books matter a great deal to me, both professionally and personally. There was a time when I wasn’t prioritising reading in my life as much as I knew I valued it so I started to treat reading like exercise and built it into my routine. That discipline also encompassed reading broadly, not just political histories and policy tomes, but literature…

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Old and New Australia

I grew up in country Queensland and my family tree is about as ‘Old Australia’ as you can get, straight from the pages of Russel Ward’s ‘The Australian Legend’. My ancestor, John Watts, came to Australia in the 1840’s and by the 1860’s was a member of the first Queensland Parliament. Growing up, I was schooled with stories about our…

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The Mallee

I feel like I was born for this job and for this seat. My father was from Pyramid Hill and my mother taught at Lalbert Primary School before my parents moved to Western Australia to work with Aboriginal communities in Norseman, Carnarvon and Onslow. Whilst my parents returned to farming when I was very young, I was brought up with…

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Drive

I grew up on a Dairy farm, the youngest of seven children, six boys and a girl. It was a very basic, modest life, but good fun. We went to school in Shepparton. I’d catch the school bus each morning and home again in the afternoon. It would take an hour for the 30km trip once everyone had been picked…

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Learning from the Wisdom of Others

My personal philosophies always start from a point of principle and then I seek to enliven and crystallized those initial ideas. The books that sit on my bookshelf, and that I highlight in this article, directed me to focus my thoughts and get them onto clear tracks through learning from the wisdom and knowledge of others. My first selections are…