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Senator Canavan plays straight bat in political career

Senator Matthew Canavan.
Senator Matthew Canavan. Sharyn O'Neill

MATTHEW Canavan's come a long way from his "communist" days.

While these views didn't last much past his early university years, it did spark a passion for economics which set the new Rockhampton politician on the path to a seat with the LNP in Australia's Senate.

Growing up in the suburbs of Logan, Matthew's dream career was donning a baggy green in The Ashes and he spent almost every day under the scorching Queensland sun playing cricket.

Taking backyard cricket to a new level, Matthew's dad build a cricket pitch, eventually adding nets.

In his maiden Senate speech, Matthew joked his dad was still a little disappointed he gave up the pitch for politics.

The importance of family was a strong theme of that speech, something Matthew said was instilled in him from an early age by his Italian mother.

"The favourite times of my childhood were the times I spent with family, where you feel safe and protected," he said.

Hoping to give his children the same sense of security, Matthew wants to use his role in the Senate to make things better for Australian families.

But with a seat in the Senate comes an obligation to be away from his wife Andrea and children William, Jack and Henry several weeks a year.

Although his work for Barnaby Joyce prepared him for life on the road, being away from his family is tough.

"The travel is the best and the worst thing about politics," Matthew said.

"It's the best because you get to see country you'd never probably get to...but it's also the worst thing because you go home from a long day to a dodgy hotel room."

While Matthew has started to set up his Rockhampton office, his family are yet to make the move.

Still living in Toowoomba, Andrea is expecting their fourth child.

"Around Christmas, when the kids are finished school we'll move up," Matthew said.

Matthew yesterday shared his thoughts on the big issues facing Central Queenslanders with The Morning Bulletin.

Broncos go back to the future

While cricket remains a firm favourite, Matthew is also a big NRL fan, cheering on the Brisbane Broncos.

But he's disappointed with their move to axe current coach Anthony Griffin in favour of Wayne Bennett, describing it as a "back to the future step".

"I think Griffin's been hard done by," Matthew said.

"I've got a lot of time for Wayne Bennett, he's a great coach and done wonderful things for the Broncos, but at some point they've got to have a succession plan."

Convention centre viable

Broncos away games in Rockhampton may become reality if the proposed stadium and convention centre goes ahead.

"I want to see an NRL team here," he said.

"If the NRL get behind the bid, the Federal and State governments should come to the party."

But Matthew said a convention centre could still be viable without a stadium.

NAPLAN is not the answer

Matthew is an advocate for strong relationships between parents, teachers and students.

He said using NAPLAN testing to judge children and schools' performances was unrealistic.

Stronger laws on competition

With the supermarket giants battling a price war, Matthew said they had "enormous amounts of power" when dealing with businesses and farmers.

"If you don't have shelf space as a manufacturer...you can't have a business," he said.

In a bid to protect primary producers and small businesses, Matthew said he'd like to see stronger competition laws.

Doubts over parental policy

Despite being Tony Abbott's signature policy, Matthew has some doubts about the Paid Parental Leave scheme.

"I have concerns with our Paid Parental Leave policy, particularly how it relates to pressuring young mothers to go back to work," he said.

"All the evidence says that if you're able to stay at home...in the first year especially, it makes a big difference to the child's development on average and we should be supporting that.

"At the same time...it was part of our policy platform, so it's something I will vote for."

Getting women into politics

Matthew said more needed to be done to get women involved in politics, with Julie Bishop the sole female in the LNP Ministry.

"We have to do better as the LNP," he said.

Matthew said he'd like to see changes to Parliamentary sitting times to allow for more family time.

"There's no family life (in politics), you're just saying goodbye to your kids for 20 weeks of the year and that's a tough decision," he said.

Joyce was a big influence

Barnaby Joyce has had a big impact on Matthew, mentoring him in what, and what not, to do.

"The most important thing he ever told me is to walk humbly," Matthew said.

"You're very, very lucky to be in this position.

"It's not about you; it's about the people you represent.

"If they want me to go into bat on a particular issue, regardless of my personal prejudices, I need to do it the best I can."

Topics:  lnp politics senator matt canavan



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