I'm a proud Tasmanian, having lived on the North-West Coast for most of my life. I am married to Gaylene and we have three children. We also share our home with two cats and one very large dog.
Before entering politics, I worked in the construction industry for more than two decades. I started work as an apprentice and went on to operate my own businesses. I'm a strong supporter of trades training and of flexible workplace relations as a direct result of my own industry experiences.
I also love my sport and, together with Gaylene, have been involved with local sporting groups and clubs for many years.
Prior to being elected as Senator, I worked to advance the interests of the North-West Tasmanian business community and economy. I served as president of the Devonport Chamber of Commerce, and as a director of the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I was also an Alderman of the Devonport City Council.
My involvement with politics grew over time following involvement with industry, business and school representative roles.
I became particularly motivated following major cuts to education funding in the early 1990s, the withdrawal of building trades training from the North West of Tasmania and the loss of major projects to the region for purely political reasons - to gain green preferences in Sydney and Melbourne.
I was determined that Tasmania should not be used again as a political sacrifice for major population centres.
I was elected as Senator in 2001 and commenced my duties on February 4, 2002, upon resignation of the Hon. Jocelyn Newman.
In the Howard Government, I served in various roles, including as the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Parliamentary Secretary for Finance.
In October 2008 I was appointed Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. I enjoy this portfolio area very much as I have a strong affinity for regional communities and the farming sector after living on a dairy farm at Wilmot during my younger years. I enjoy working closely with these primary industries to get better outcomes for rural and regional Australia.
In May 2010, I was given the additional appointment of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. Engagement with local businesses - big and small - is an important part of this portfolio.
Following the August 2010 election, I was re-appointed to the Coalition Shadow Ministry in the positions of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry and also Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science.
In 2013, following the Coalition's win at the September federal election, I was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture.
Appointed by the Governor of Tasmania on 4.2.2002 under section 15 of the Constitution to represent that State in the Senate, vice the Hon. JM Newman (resigned) (term ended 30.6.2002). Elected 2001 (term began 1.7.2002),2007 and 2013.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry from 26.10.04 to 27.1.06.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration from 27.1.06 to 3.12.07.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture from 18.09.13 to current.
Senate Standing: House from 19.3.02 to 15.11.04; Publications from 1.7.02 to 15.11.04; Regulations and Ordinances 16.3.12 to 11.11.13.
Senate Legislative and General Purpose Standing: Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport: Legislation Committee from 25.3.02 to 15.11.04.
Senate Select: Housing Affordability in Australia from 14.2.08 to 16.6.08; Climate Policy from 17.3.09 to 15.6.09; Australia's Food Processing Sector from 16.6.11 to 16.8.12.
Joint Statutory: Public Accounts and Audit from 14.2.02 to 25.3.03; Public Works from 22.8.02 to 31.8.04.
Joint Standing: National Capital and External Territories from 19.3.02 to 1.7.02.
Parliamentary Delegation to Fiji and Papua New Guinea, October-November 2002.
Official visit to Japan, July 2005.
Parliamentary Delegation to Egypt and Israel, October-November 2008.
Parliamentary Delegation to New Zealand, June 2011
Parliamentary Delegation to China and Indonesia, August-September 2012
Official visit to Tokelau, June-July 2014
Australian Business Week in India Delegation, January 2015
Forest and Forest Industry Market Development Mission to Japan and China, April 2015
G20 Agriculture Ministers Meeting in Turkey, May 2015
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Health from 6.12.07 to 22.9.08
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry from 22.9.08 to 14.9.10
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research from 11.5.10. to 14.9.10
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries and Forestry from 14.9.10 to 18.09.13
Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation, Industry and Science from 14.9.10 to 18.09.13
Member, Liberal Party from 1990.
Delegate, Liberal Party State Council from 1991.
Member, Liberal Party State Executive (Tas) from 1992.
Member, Liberal Party State Policy Advisory Committee (Tas) 1993-97.
Member, Liberal Party Federal Executive 2000-02.
State President, Liberal Party (Tas) 2000-2002.
Born 5.4.1958, Myrtleford, Vic.
Small Business Management Certificate; Certificate in Technology (Building); Carpentry and Joinery Trade and Proficiency Certificates (Devonport Technical College).
Apprentice, carpentry and joinery 1977-79; trainee estimator and supervisor 1977-79; manager 1979-84.
Building estimator and supervisor 1984-89.
Managing director and proprietor of building consultancy from 1989.
Director, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1998-2001.
President, Devonport Chamber of Commerce 1993-96 and 1998-2000.
Alderman, Devonport City Council 1999-2002.