The ballot draw for candidates in next month's federal election has confirmed who is and who isn't running for office in the Hunter's four main electorates.
The Newcastle Herald asked each candidate, in ballot order, to spell out their background.
Janet Murray (Greens)
Occupation: Retired engineer, part-time assistant winemaker
Background: I was retrenched as manager of the blast furnace department when the steelworks shut down. It's not a good feeling, and I will work hard to ensure workers in the Hunter are supported in the transition away from fossil fuel. I continued to apply my engineering skills in the not-for-profit sector. I managed improvements at Kurri Preschool, upgraded the high school canteen kitchen and improved the food served at my mother's aged care facility. For close to 30 years, my husband and I have worked on reducing our impact on the environment. It's time for government to transform our economy to ensure our environment is safe for future generations.
Dan Repacholi (Labor)
Occupation: Fitter and turner
Background: We've been ignored by the Liberal and National government for the past decade. We need and deserve a big voice that's going to stand up and fight for our fair share, which is why I've decided to run for Hunter. Having worked for years in the mining industry and chosen to raise my family right here in the Hunter, I'm acutely aware of the issues that we face. Stagnant wages, job insecurity, rising cost of living and cuts to Medicare are all big issues. Labor will also deliver same job, same pay laws to stop labour-hire companies ripping off workers.
Victoria Davies (Animal Justice Party)
Occupation: Registered nurse
Background: I am a registered nurse of 35 years now working in an emergency department, caring for people with strength and compassion on what is often the worst day of their lives. I volunteer with Dog Rescue Newcastle providing sanctuary to a variety of fur-kids. I am standing to protect the vulnerable and to advocate for nationally consistent laws banning puppy and kitten farming, an end to factory farming and live export and to protect our unique wildlife from habitat destruction. I have lived in the Hunter for 45 years and, with my husband, have four children and seven grandchildren.
Stuart Bonds (Independent)
Occupation: Plant mechanic
Background: Father to Penny and Indy and husband to Sini. I work as a plant mechanic in the coalmining industry. I've lived in this region and raised my family here my entire adult life. Like millions of Australians, I got sick of the major parties making life harder, not easier, for ordinary citizens. They collude together in the echo chamber of Canberra to exploit, disregard and play off our region against others. I'm running for the sake of the industry I love and work in and my family and friends in the region. I'm worried our region will be sold off and forgotten about in the pursuit of brainless net-zero policies.
James Thomson (Nationals)
Occupation: Community relations officer
Background: I grew up in regional NSW with parents who run their own small business. I am married to my amazing wife, Claire, with two young kids living in Cameron Park. After studying a double degree in business and law at the University of Newcastle I worked on the V8 Supercars project and currently work for a local school. I am passionate about making sure our kids and grandkids can land the job of their dreams in the Hunter. We need a vision for the future where we back existing industries whilst creating new opportunities for families.
Geoff Passfield (United Australia Party)
Background: I've been married for 29 years and have two adult children. I have lived, worked and raised my family in the Hunter. I'm an ex-tradie who has worked in labour-hire and taught at TAFE and in industry before retraining as an industrial arts teacher. I'm running in this election because this is my home, and it's time the people of the Hunter got a fair go. I'm here to fight for the coal industry and for the jobs it provides. I will fight with everything I have for what's best for our region.
Dale McNamara (Pauline Hanson's One Nation)
Occupation: Executive director
Background: I am a great Australian success story. A born and bred Singleton local who has lived in the Hunter all his life, I am a self-made man with extensive business experience and success in the coalmining, agricultural, horse racing and hospitality industries, covering the wide economic diversity of the Hunter electorate.
Scott Laruffa (Independent)
Background: I have worked in an earthmoving business for 14 years. Before that I worked in a family business called Riverview Hostel at Carronbong. For most of my working life I have looked after the elderly and disadvantaged. l grew up in the nursing home industry. I can see a lot of problems with this regime that need correcting.
Garth Pywell (Australian Federation Party)
Background: As a husband, father and small business owner, I have found the last couple of years difficult. The impact of confusing policy direction on my family, my friends and my community were significant enough for me to put my hand up to run. I felt it was time for a better type of candidate, one that focused more on listening to what their voters need rather than following party directives. It's time for bold, long-term and future-proofing plans. Newcastle needs change and requires an inspiring yet grounded person to guide the electorate forward. Let's see change, Newcastle.
Charlotte McCabe (Greens)
Occupation: Newcastle councillor, casual teacher
Background: I am a primary school teacher recently elected to Newcastle council. I have been a spokesperson for the community on issues including coal dust, ammonium nitrate storage and coal port diversification, and for the Protect Our Coast Alliance on the successful PEP-11 offshore gas campaign. I've seen first-hand struggling public schools, exhausted teachers and kids slipping through the cracks. I've been involved with grassroots campaigns to protect nature across the country, but we've continued to watch forests fall, coal and gas projects approved and threatened species decline. After witnessing this injustice, I decided to step up and get involved with the Greens.
Amanda Cook (United Australia Party)
Occupation: Primary school teacher
Background: I am married with five children and have experience working in retail, administration, in-home aged and disability care, primary school teaching and behaviour support intervention. I completed an honours degree in psychology to become a school counsellor last year, however, was unable to continue working due to government mandates. My volunteer roles include Girl Guides, sewing for Angel Gowns for Australian Angel Babies. My hobbies include tap and pole dancing. My husband and I are directors of our small business. I hope to use my expertise in business, teaching and all facets of life to serve the people of Newcastle.
Sharon Claydon (Labor)
Occupation: Member for Newcastle
Background: I am a fifth-generation Novocastrian with a track record of standing up for Newcastle. I have been pivotal in the fights to save our GP Access After Hours, ensure our Centrelink and Veterans Affairs shopfronts remain open and position Newcastle to become a renewable energy superpower. Before entering Parliament, I worked in the disability sector and as an anthropologist in remote Aboriginal communities. I remain committed to social justice and have always stood up to improve the lives of working people. I am passionate about fighting discrimination and ensuring we leave a better world for the next generation.
William Hussey (Informed Medical Options Party)
Background: I have a passionate commitment to free speech and open democracy. I oppose the "no jab, no job" vaccine mandate. I believe the two-party political system has failed; that both parties no longer represent Australians. Our rights have been trampled during the COVID "pandemic". Thousands of employees and small businesses have suffered unnecessary hardship and been forced into unemployment or closures. State and federal bureaucracies have grown too large and Australians are no longer able to undertake any activity without some form of government interference.
Katrina Wark (Liberal)
Occupation: Registered nurse
Background: Born in Waratah, I have seen Newcastle transform from an industrial area to a diverse regional town. I have served the community as a nurse and a local councillor and now want to use my experience to deliver more for Newcastle. My husband, Peter, and I live with two of our seven children and have two grandchildren. In 2017, I established the Newcastle Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to support fundraising initiatives and to run events in partnership with Cystic Fibrosis Australia. As part of the Morrison Liberal team, I will fight to improve local roads and infrastructure and ensure the region has access to world-class hospitals and health services.
Mark Watson (Pauline Hanson's One Nation)
Background: I am a proud father and happily married. I completed my chef apprenticeship at the age of 19 and have worked hard in small business my entire career. With increased operational costs and stagnating wages, I see how extremely difficult it has become for small business. One Nation proposes introducing many sensible, attainable and affordable policies focusing on supporting the core values of families: health, education and secure jobs.
Emily Brollo (Animal Justice)
Background: I have been an animal advocate and proponent of plant-based lifestyles for 25 years. I am standing for AJP on Awabakal land to ensure animals have a voice in parliament. I am campaigning for a rapid transition from harmful animal agriculture, protecting habitats, promoting reforestation, prohibiting fossil fuel expansion and promoting carbon-free energy. I have lived in Newcastle for over 20 years with my husband, two teenage children and three rescue fur babies. As a midwife, I have worked in community and hospital roles with Indigenous and vulnerable families. In my spare time I love skating with Newcastle Roller Derby League.
Bree Roberts (Animal Justice)
Occupation: Marketing coordinator
Background: I grew up in Newcastle; attending Hillsborough Public School and Merewether High. I live in New Lambton Heights with my rescue dog, Mr Fergus. I recently completed both a Bachelor of Business and a Master of Marketing at the University of Newcastle. A survivor of domestic violence, I am demanding a single national register for convicted domestic and animal abuse perpetrators to help warn potential victims. I also want increased funding for pet-friendly domestic violence and crisis shelters nationwide. I believe immediate action is needed in federal parliament to protect our native species from the harsh realities of climate change.
Basil Paynter (Independent)
Occupation: Engineer, secondary school teacher
Background: I have a background in management, finance, planning and in the execution of major industrial works, including the commercial negotiation of contracts. I am passionate about social justice, fairness and equality. Working with the community, valuing their input and representing their point of view will be the cornerstone of my approach.
Barry Reed (Liberal Democrats)
Occupation: Specialist oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Air Force Reserve officer
Background: I have been about care, service and solutions for the people of Lake Macquarie for 30 years and am a local resident. I started as a public hospital maxillofacial surgeon caring for victims of facial fractures, severe infections and mouth cancer and continued in local practice. In 1983, my first passion as a newly minted dentist was caring for adults with severe disabilities at Westmead Hospital. I am a RAAF Reservist volunteering at remote Aboriginal communities. I care about solving the big problems facing our community: living costs exploding, children behind in school, workers under threat. I am a real worker for real change.
Nell McGill (Liberal)
Occupation: Commercial litigation and insolvency lawyer
Background: I am married to a school teacher and we have three school-aged girls. I am a local lawyer, volunteer and co-founder of a charity that promotes self-esteem in girls and young women. With over 18 years' experience negotiating best outcomes for clients, I now want to use my skills to fight for a better deal for Shortland. I am committed to the traditional industries of the region while supporting diversification where new opportunities exist. I will be a passionate and positive representative for Shortland as part of the Morrison Liberal team.
Pat Conroy (Labor)
Occupation: Member for Shortland
Background: I grew up on the Central Coast and have a Bachelor of Economics (Hons.) from the University of Sydney. I worked as an economist in the public and private sector, including six years as principal policy adviser to Greg Combet MP in his defence, industry and climate change portfolios. I helped to design the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation, ARENA, $1 billion Australian Jobs Plan and Australian Jobs Act and significant reforms to Defence procurement. I live in Lake Macquarie with my wife and two young children.
Kenneth Maxwell (United Australia Party)
Occupation: Port Authority NSW vessel traffic controller
Background: I was born in Sydney and raised in Helensburgh. I started work with the railway at 15. After getting married I moved to the Hunter in 1988 and joined the NSW fire brigade as an on-call firefighter. Meanwhile, I was advancing my railway career from train driver to then train controller. I finished my railway career as a chief train controller at Broadmeadow. Since 2017 I have been working with the Port Authority. I am married with three adult children and seven grandchildren.
Quintin King (Pauline Hanson's One Nation)
Occupation: Maintenance technician
Background: A plant mechanic working in the coal industry, I am proud of my blue-collar background. I am also a proud husband and father of two children. I never wanted to get involved in politics but, as the saying goes, accept what you can't change and change what you can't accept. The people of Shortland are tired of politics as usual. They're tired of being ignored and dismissed by Australia's political class. I'm putting my hand up for One Nation to provide the people of Shortland with a genuine representative who works for them.
Kim Grierson (Greens)
Occupation: Retired TAFE teacher
Background: Australia needs to properly train and retrain people without burdening them with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. The Greens have a policy for excellent free public education from childcare through to TAFE and university. I have taken up voluntary roles with Save Our Coast and the Community Consultative Committee for Eraring Power Station. I want to see the 100 million tons of coal ash waste from Eraring recycled into structural lightweight aggregate to provide jobs and cut pollution. We are in a climate emergency. The Greens are the only party with a plan to help us move to a low emissions economy and support workers.
Neil Turner (Pauline Hanson's One Nation)
Occupation: Fitter machinist
Background: I work in the coalmining industry and live in Raymond Terrace. I began my working life in the tool-making trade in western Sydney when industries were constantly moving offshore as manufacturing in Australia was and is in decline under various governments. I have been a union delegate and member for many years. I became involved with One Nation 25 years ago because of my disillusionment with the major parties being out of touch with the normal person, driven by polls and ideology. I now serve as the president of One Nation in NSW.
Brooke Vitnell (Liberal)
Background: I am a born and bred Port Stephens woman who lives in Medowie with my husband, Julian, and our two cats. My family on all sides have lived in the Hunter for over a century working in mining, the timber industry and running small businesses. I work in family law, property law, wills and estates in the family-operated firm run by my father, David. I am a proud advocate for better youth mental health outcomes locally, advocate against domestic and family violence, raising the issue of elder abuse, and have assisted victims of institutionalised child sexual abuse with applications to the national redress scheme in a pro bono capacity.
Meryl Swanson (Labor)
Occupation: Member for Paterson
Background: First elected in 2016, I am shadow assistant minister for defence. Born in Kurri Kurri as the daughter of a coalminer, I was a radio presenter and business owner. I am committed to relieving cost-of-living pressures through cheaper power and childcare, secure jobs and training. I will deliver better healthcare and aged care, a Medicare licence for Maitland Hospital's MRI and better access to GPs. I stand up for pensioners and veterans. I will fast-track the M1 extension from Black Hill to Raymond Terrace and upgrade roads at Heddon Greta and Thornton. I support koala conservation and solutions for PFAS-affected communities.
Angela Ketas (Informed Medical Options)
Occupation: Nurse, barrister, educator
Background: I am passionate about human rights, health choices and alternatives to mainstream education. I have witnessed the devastation caused by the draconian measures and divisiveness that have been forced on my community in recent times. I have been married for 20 years and raised two teenage sons. My background is as a registered nurse and a barrister defending human, environmental and animal rights. For the past 10 years, I have worked for an independent school supporting it in all aspects of school safety and child protection. I am a wildlife rescuer, have studied shamanism and have worked as a judge's associate, in hospitality, tour guiding, aged care and outdoor education.
Louise Ihlein (Greens)
Background: I worked as a registered nurse for many years in public hospitals and GP clinics. I am also a mum of two fine young men. I am now at University of Newcastle studying development studies, majoring in citizens and citizenship.
Sonia Bailey (Liberal Democrats)
Background: I am a devoted wife and mother and have lived in the Paterson electorate for almost 30 years. Immersing myself in the community, I eagerly help people of all backgrounds by volunteering at local op-shops, fundraising for Girl Guides and cooking for those in need. I fight for freedom, better mental health and pediatric services and accountability of elected politicians. I want to end government overreach, give Aussies their rights back and bring commonsense to parliament. The time has come for career and hereditary politicians to step aside as we the people take back control of our nation.
Jason Olbourne (United Australia Party)
Occupation: Radio host
Background: I am a political observer, ex-Labor preselection candidate and married father of five whose TV production career ended in April 2020 as a covid casualty. Paterson is a microcosm of Australia and has everything to build a family. The events of the past two years have created great risk for our electorate, with pressure via net zero on coalmining and rising inflation caused by government debt, supply shortages and geopolitical uncertainty threatening livelihoods and homes. We must address these issues with direct policies that protect the people. The UAP has both the credentials and policy to match. Coal. Homes. Jobs. Kids.
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