EARLY DAYS: Michelle Landry (Martin) with her family, Bill Martin, Gloria Martin and Daniel Martin (clockwise) sitting for a family portrait (approx. 1966)
EARLY DAYS: Michelle Landry (Martin) with her family, Bill Martin, Gloria Martin and Daniel Martin (clockwise) sitting for a family portrait (approx. 1966) Contributed

BIG READ: Pre-election political profile of Michelle Landry

Perched on top of a box, standing at the front counter of the family news-agency, Michelle Landry's parents fully trusted her at the age of 12 to look after the family business.

Fast forward 43 years and it is the people of Capricornia who have trusted her twice now with the business of being our federal representative in Canberra.

She is caring, hard working, committed to her job and passionate about our region.

When Michelle isn't commuting to Canberra or hitting the highway to visit her constituents, she loves to share her rare down time with her family.

In what was traditionally regarded as a Labor strong hold, Michelle made history in 2016 by being the first Nationals MP to "have a second go” at the federal seat of Capricornia.

It was a narrow victory for Michelle, she holds Capricornia by a slim margin of just 1.2 per cent.

But the perpetual underdog loves a scrap and is determined to prove the doubters wrong once again when the next election campaign kicks off in the first half of 2019.

On the eve of her visage once again adorning campaign signs around Capricornia, it's worth revisiting where Michelle Landry's past, hearing of her career achievements and her future vision for the region.

CHILDHOOD

Born in Rockhampton on October 15, 1962, Michelle Leanne Landry, grew up with two brothers and "lovely parents”, enjoying a wonderful childhood in what was more of a "big country town” than a city back then.

"The city's changed enormously. My parents had Lucky Daniels Casket Agency which was in William St and they had that for 21 years,” she said.

"As a child I spend a lot of time at our parent's shop, I used to wander around East St a lot and talk to business people.

FUTURE WORKPLACE: Michelle Landry (Martin), Bill Martin (father) and Daniel Martin (brother) outside Lucky Daniels Casket Agency (approx. 1965)
FUTURE WORKPLACE: Michelle Landry (Martin), Bill Martin (father) and Daniel Martin (brother) outside Lucky Daniels Casket Agency (approx. 1965) Contributed

"At 12-years-old I started working in the shop, I used to stand on a box behind the counter and write out casket tickets.

"I've always worked hard and my parents have always worked hard too, that's where you get it from.”

She was educated locally at Hall State School and attended Rockhampton Girls Grammar.

A "very quiet” in school and "just an average student”, to this day Michelle's old school friends are still express their shock that she arrived at such a prominent role in the public spotlight.

Michelle ready for her first day of high school at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School (approx. 1975).
Michelle ready for her first day of high school at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School (approx. 1975). Contributed

CAREER PRE-POLITICS

Between 1978 to 1985 Michelle worked as a pathology and medical biochemistry laboratory assistant before embarking in a career in the banking sector working for the National Australia Bank in Yeppoon between 1985 and 2007.

Michelle said working in banking worked well with raising her daughters Jessica and Kirstin.

Consequently she found herself volunteering (or volunteered) for money handling roles like being the treasurer of the school P&C committee.

Michelle believed it was very important to to give back to the community and admired people who volunteered.

"Over the years I have been heavily involved in community programs,” she said.

"I've been involved with the heart foundation, Girl Guides, Yeppoon Surf Life Saving Club and Rotaract when I was younger.”

She ran a local bookkeeping business from 1999 to 2009.

POLITICAL CAREER

Her first taste of politics was at the age of 18, thanks to her father who at the time was the president of the Young Liberals for Queensland.

"I became involved with the Liberal Party initially and that was back the Joh [Bjelke-Petersen] days so I changed over to the Nationals because that was more relevant to this area, a National Party area,” she said.

"I always remained in politics but on the sidelines when I had my children and it was only when they left school, I thought I'd get back involved in it.

"When the LNP formed in 2008, I decided I'd become more involved because it was good that it was the Liberal National Party.”

In 2010, the LNP needed a candidate for the election and she was convinced to run, diving into a five week campaign and a crash course in politics on a shoe string budget.

NERVOUS MOMENT: Michelle delivering her Maiden Speech in Parliament December 2013.
NERVOUS MOMENT: Michelle delivering her Maiden Speech in Parliament December 2013. Contributed

"I was fairly apprehensive about that. I always wanted to work in a political office but never actually be the politician and I hadn't done a lot with media, public speaking, policy or the rest of it,” she said.

"It was terrifying and exciting at the same time.”

After her failure to win the seat of Capricornia in the 2010 federal election against long-term Labor MP Kirsten Livermore, Michelle was heartened by a 8.5 per cent swing towards her and resolved to get herself out there learn, plan, attend community events to develop a public profile and win next time.

"A big part of this is knowing what the issues are in the community but also that people know you,” she said.

Being a "local girl and her family being well known in the community” Michelle certainly believes that it has helped her political cause.

"I try and be very genuine to people. I don't go and try and push politics down their throat all the time. Most people want to talk about normal everyday stuff,” she said.

Following the retirement of Livermore in 2013, Michelle beat Labor's Peter Freeleagus to win the seat in the 2013 federal election and in 2016 she was re-elected, defeating Labor's Leisa Neaton.

In February, Michelle was elevated to the position of Chief Party Whip for the Nationals, a leadership role where she not only has to keep her largely male colleagues in line but also has increased her sway to strongly advocate Capricornia in policy negotiations.

ACHIEVEMENTS

"One thing I have learnt with all of this is everything is about your electorate,” Michelle said.

"Doesn't matter what happens down in Canberra, no one votes for you in Canberra,

"Its about what you can get for your electorate.”

DAY JOB: A day in the mines - Michelle checking out the draglines at Peak Downs mine in Moranbah.  Inset: Michelle ready for a meeting as the President of the Rockhampton South Rotaract Club ( approx 1982)
DAY JOB: A day in the mines - Michelle checking out the draglines at Peak Downs mine in Moranbah. Inset: Michelle ready for a meeting as the President of the Rockhampton South Rotaract Club ( approx 1982) Contributed

At 90903 sq km, the electoral division of Capricornia is massive.

It takes in Rockhampton, stretches east to Yeppoon and the Keppel Islands, north through Sarina, Mackay and Collinsville and west beyond Moranbah and Clermont.

The member for Capricornia has proven over the past five years that she's a veritable road warrior to cover the necessary ground to visit and listen to her constituents.

The electorate is known for its grains, beef cattle, grazing, fishing, coal mining, meat works, dairy products and tourism which Michelle has promoted and advocated on behalf of, both locally and in Canberra.

When are 150 electorates all vying for a same bucket of money, she said you had to lobby hard for funding and her success in making the Rookwood Weir project stand out on a list of more than 100 potential water projects to finally earn federal funding was a reward for her efforts.

FUN DAY: Bill Martin, Gloria Martin, Michelle Landry (Martin) and Daniel Martin at the Rockhampton Show (approx 1968).
FUN DAY: Bill Martin, Gloria Martin, Michelle Landry (Martin) and Daniel Martin at the Rockhampton Show (approx 1968). Contributed

"Since I was elected, I'm in my fifth year, I've worked really hard to put Capricornia on the map, people know who we are now down in Canberra,” she said.

"I've been passionate about working for projects, things like Rookwood Weir but also as you come into Rocky, stage two of the Yeppen bridge project.

"I think since the area has become marginally both federally and state-wide, it's been amazing how much money has been poured into this area and I'm really pleased to see that.”

When she was elected, Michelle said she pushed council about the Riverbank revitalisation project and was extremely pleased with the final result.

She has also lobbied hard to tackle cyber bullying, encouraged more women to take up careers in politics and to be more supportive towards their female peers.

FUTURE AMBITIONS

"I think we've got to do things that will make people stay here rather than drive through," Michelle said.

Building on the achievement of the riverbank precinct, she looked forward to working with Rockhampton Region Council to realise the new art gallery project.

Michelle is championing a number of road projects including improving the Bruce Highway, starting the Rockhampton Ring Road and duplicating of the Capricorn Highway.

ELECTORAL MAP: The seat of Capricornia is a massive 90,903 sq km in size, demanding a lot of driving time to cover.
ELECTORAL MAP: The seat of Capricornia is a massive 90,903 sq km in size, demanding a lot of driving time to cover. AEC

Other ambitions she would like to see realised include seeing Rockhampton Airport becoming an international airport and a permanent military battalion being stationed in Central Queensland to capitalise on the Shoalwater Bay train facility development.

Michelle continued to hope to see the Adani project proceed and another coal-fired power station constructed.

She would like to see more tourism activity including a development to go ahead on Great Keppel Island, even if was a scaled down eco-friendly accommodation and also for the Capricorn Resort to reopen.

ELECTION ANTICIPATION

"Since I started this eight years ago now, I've learn a lot and I've got a lot tougher, because it's a pretty vicious business sometimes,” Michelle said.

This added experience was already being put to the test in the lead up to next year's election.

Michelle's marginal seat is already being targeted and strongly challenged Labor, who announced in February their candidate for Capricornia - a former Moranbah resident, union boss and coal miner named Russell Robertson.

She expected that creating jobs and lowering the cost of living and particularly power would be big issues during the election.

Helping the community remains Michelle's focus.

It is a point of pride that her office, who were often the last resort for some people, followed up on everyone who reached out to them for help.

Michelle Landry welcomed the challenges ahead and intended to keep working hard and chalking up the miles on the road and in the air for the people of Capricornia.



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