Political Representation for Ordinary Hard Workers
What qualifies anyone to run as a politician and represent the people? I once heard a politician say that 40% of Australians are tertiary qualified. I concluded that in a representative democracy there must be room in parliament for a representative from the 60% who aren’t and whose taxes ensured others were. But the question about what experience each candidate brings is a valid one.
Flying across the Tasman in the 1980’s wasn’t really viewed as immigration but more like a cousin dropping in. Nevertheless, technically I’m an immigrant who has called Australia home for over 30 years. I have worked in the private and public sector, for small business, for a multinational corporation, been self-employed and am currently a small business owner and employer.
My working life started after school as a 14-year-old. I was employed in a Chinese Restaurant as a dishwasher 3 nights a week and my repertoire of adolescent jokes kept Mrs Fong, kitchen staff and cook in good spirits. These were the days before commercial dishwashers replaced the student.
My first real clerical position and experience in the public sector was as a clerk in the Chief Postmaster’s Office in Rotorua. I had to process leave applications and with a group of others, manually compute wages for employees within the Bay of Plenty region. Being more efficient than a government department demanded at that time, I requested a transfer to Telephone Services where the challenges were greater and I wasn’t left with time to fill in until the clock read 4:35pm. I later enjoyed a transfer to Tolls where I was a ‘cord and plug’ toll operator. That hints at my age.
Wages were stagnant and days seemed long so I stepped out of the safety of being a government employee into the private sector landing three casual jobs which I worked simultaneously; morning housemaid and breakfast waitress at the Travelodge and evening waitress at the DB Rotorua and Geyserland Hotels. From here I stepped into a receptionist role and fortuitously landed a role as Senior Guest Service Agent within the multinational Sheraton Hotel Corporation. Within 12 months I was promoted to Group Rooms Controller with three staff and oversight of all the group bookings, which at that time constituted 1/3 of the Sheraton Auckland hotels total rooms revenue. At 26 years of age I was transferred from Auckland to the Worldwide Sheraton Sales Centre in Sydney to take up the position as Sales Executive for them. Australia has been home ever since.
Marriage, motherhood and as a young mum, some success in home based direct sales, were followed by employment as a Recruitment Consultant. In addition to sourcing and selecting candidates for permanent roles, a large component of this consultancy was new business development. I felt at that time I had found my niche in the recruitment industry however my career was cut short when my son was diagnosed with childhood leukaemia. This exposed me to new challenges on every level. It also provided an unwanted but appreciated introduction to Australia’s healthcare system.
Some time out of the workforce allowed for voluntary contributions in a cross-cultural capacity to assist new arrivals with conversational English, official documentation and other general assistance. My husband and I have been homestay parents for a number of international students and engaged in many forums addressing sensitive social, cultural and political issues. I evolved into an author and public speaker publishing my first book in 2009. Political candidacy was a natural step.
Today I am both a political candidate and small business owner. Our family business in regional Victoria was established to make provision for our son and his wife, to offer them the dignity of work; hope and a future. Underemployment in Melbourne is an issue and this decision we made 2 years ago to take a risk and take on a regional business has paid off. Our son and his wife are now independent resident managers of our family motel business.
My husband is a carpenter and has either been self-employed or contracted in the building industry all his life. We are all hard workers. We are all taxpayers.
I am not an academic but have lived in the real world as an employee and employer. I am an immigrant, a cross-cultural worker, an author and small business owner. I have contributed to society and as a mother with a very sick child, been a grateful beneficiary of society.
As an Independent Candidate for Deakin, I trust that lived experience qualifies me to be a representative voice for all.
Authorised by Vickie Janson