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I was born in Ulverstone, on the north-west coast of Tasmania.
Dad drove trucks. Mum trained at the TAFE in Devonport as a hairdresser.
Growing up, we didn’t have much, but we made do. Money was tight. We lived in public housing for a while. We didn’t mind though. You meet some characters, that’s for sure.
I knew early on I wanted to join the army.
When I joined up aged 18, my parents were over the moon. I decided to join the transport corp. Be a truckie, like dad.
I served for nearly 11 years. First in transport, then in military police. Tell you what, if you want to learn how to stick up for yourself, try being a 5’4 25-year-old woman in the military police!
I owe the ADF a lot
I loved it. The people, the job, the sense of being able to contribute to something that matters.
Then I injured my spine during a field exercise. I tried to push on, but I couldn’t move some days. I was medically discharged in 2000.
That’s where things went south.
I spent ten years fighting the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and it nearly broke me.
DVA cancelled my military pension after a year. It said I wasn’t injured. It fought me all the way through the courts.
I nearly lost everything. Raising two kids as a single mum, living on Centrelink, fighting a government department, we struggled. And I nearly gave up.
I came out the other side, somehow, determined to change things.
Somehow, I beat them. You ask me now and I couldn’t tell you how I did it. Sheer bloody-mindedness maybe.
But I came out the other side angry. I’d lost the better part of a decade fighting a government department on my own, as a single mum without a dollar to her name. Nobody deserves that. So I decided to get into Parliament and change things.
I was elected to the Senate, only just.
I was running as an independent and wasn’t getting far. I didn’t know much about how things worked. I just wanted to get in there. I’d sold my house to pay for the campaign and it was spinning its wheels.
Then Clive Palmer called, and just like that I was a candidate for the Palmer United Party. I felt like if I didn’t go with him, I’d be homeless. And if I did go with him, I could win. And I did — barely.
Clive and I didn’t last long, but I’ll always be grateful he gave me a chance. It was up to me to take it.
Just when I was kicking goals, I was kicked out.
I found out dad was born in Scotland, and came to Australia when he was two years old. That made me a dual citizen. And it meant my time in the Senate was over.
I was gutted. I’d served my country in uniform and in Parliament, and all of a sudden I’m told I’m not Australian enough to be there. It felt wrong.
But the rules are the rules, so I took my lumps and left. All of a sudden, I had no income, no staff, no job — and I wasn’t done yet.
They wrote me off, but I came back, and this time, I'm staying.
I campaigned without a dollar to my name, just relying on friends and family to help me stay out there. And in 2019, I managed to sneak back in — this time, on my own.
It’s my second chance. And I’m doing it my way. This time, I’m getting things done the way I’ve always done them — through sheer bloody force of will.