I live near Pittwater bringing my young family up close to nature as I had enjoyed as a child. Surrounded by national parks I am teaching my kids to cherish the environment and understand their role in protecting it.
This is a community that loves the outdoors and we are active in sports including swimming, soccer and tennis. I raced dinghies when I was young and can’t wait for my kids to be old enough to get on the water.
This is a unique place, a sanctuary in a global city with a community that cares. That’s why we all choose to live here.
But living here is not without challenges with high house prices, ageing infrastructure, congestion, long commutes and the high cost of living while our wages have stagnated.
As I’ve sat on the bus for over two hours a day commuting to the city and back along with my neighbours, I am constantly thinking about what isn’t working and how to make it better. I know the things that will make a difference for my family will also help yours.
They both were the first in their family to be university educated.
My parents never impressed their political views upon me. They taught me critical thinking and we had robust debates around the family dinner table on the priorities and performance of government.
I grew up in a greenfield suburb in Canberra where most families had moved away from their extended families to start new lives. My neighbourhood was diverse in terms of nationalities, careers and wealth. There was a lot of public housing.
This created a tight knit community who served as de facto family.
These were valuable lessons as I assumed responsibilities for policy that affect real people.
We spent our time trekking in the region’s national parks. This introduced me to a community who taught me how these landscapes had evolved, the unique biodiversity it supported and how humans were changing the environment.
I was inspired to study environmental science and humanities, recognising the urgent need to reconcile the way we live, our culture and economy, with the natural world on which we depend on.
My first job after uni was an intern in the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). I worked across social, environmental and economic statistics and quickly appreciated the importance of data and evidence to inform policy.
I was then appointed to Infrastructure Australia providing independent advice on the nation’s infrastructure priorities. When the global financial crisis struck, I helped structure an economic stimulus package that saw record expenditure on urban rail and public transport.
My next job was in NSW supporting the Premier and Cabinet on transport, infrastructure, planning and urban renewal before seizing the opportunity to effect change at the very highest levels of government as infrastructure advisor to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
This was my first time in a political office, providing yet another lens on how government operates and makes decisions including Parliament and Budget processes.
I was involved in cross-bench negotiations and learned how a capable independent could influence outcomes for their community.
I appreciated the ballast of experience that I brought to the role. It gave me the knowledge, courage and wherewithal to challenge the status quo and drive significant reform in transport and urban planning; framing policy through good politics and not spin.
I worked for KPMG leading their national Cities and Regional Development practice before deciding to take a risk, quit my executive job to run for office.
I’m not driven by money, but conviction to making people’s lives better.
I believe in small government but regulators need to do their job protecting people and the environment.
I’m impatient and want immediate action guided by long-term thinking.
I’m guided by evidence but understand that to be effective policies must be supported by the communities they affect.
I think people pay enough tax – it’s about priorities and making the right investments particularly on infrastructure.
Neither of the major parties offer any real choice. We are stuck between the class wars on the left and the culture wars of the far right. No party is doing enough on the environment.
It’s easy to point the finger and say it’s not good enough. But I know first hand that governing is hard. So I’m standing up to make it better. I know from experience I am more effective driving change from within government than complaining from the outside.
We deserve a stronger voice as we navigate difficult decisions as a nation. We must take action on transport, overdevelopment and the environment – our health and economy depends on it. And we need new people like me providing a real choice for voters and bringing fresh approaches to old and emerging problems.