‘It’s not about the party, it’s about Capricornia’ - Landry
WHEN a survey released last week showed less than 1% of young women aspired to a life in politics, it didn't faze Michelle Landry one bit.
After one year as Capricornia's federal member, Ms Landry knows that life in politics is tough, and especially tough on mothers.
"I can understand … it's a very difficult lifestyle, you're hardly ever home," she said.
"And it's extremely difficult on the young women in Canberra with young families.
"Some women are very career focused and can do both. I admire them, it's very difficult.
"But you can do the things you want at any age. I was 50 when I became an MP."
There were plenty of people who thought Michelle Landry would never see Canberra; that she didn't have what it takes to represent the region.
But she was elected, and since beginning the job as the Federal member for one of Australia's largest and most economically relevant electorates, she has set out to do what she said she would: listen and fight for her patch.
Ms Landry was quick to answer what stood out the most in her first year in parliament.
"That parliamentary processes actually do work," she said, almost without hesitation.
"I take the issues in the electorate to the National party room and the joint party room and they are passed on to the relevant minister.
"As a backbencher, they actually do take note of what we have to say."
She cited speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop as the two people she most admired.
But Ms Landry's own ambitions are less spectacular then some of her parliamentary colleagues.
She wants to do the best she can for her electorate and win the seat at the next election.
In this post mining boom era, her focus has been on the diversification of the electorate as she pushes for Capricornia's place in the agricultural food bowl.
She divides her time between 20 weeks a year in Canberra, Rockhampton and "out west".
"It's a huge electorate and the west is very important. The west and north have felt neglected in the past so I've really put an effort into it," she said.
"We're in the process of opening an office in Sarina, hopefully in the next month.
"You can't physically do it all so we've been breaking the areas up and spending three or four days in each.
"The northern Australia plan is very important to the survival of these small towns.
"The same issues came out everywhere: a lack of services and the need for these towns to be viable.
"That's why we're pushing the agricultural corridor… it's beyond mining."
At the National Party's federal conference in Canberra last month, Ms Landry moved two motions to influence government policy by prohibiting 100% FIFO and employing locals where there is a local workforce; and removing the fringe benefits tax on families when mining companies provide housing in a remote location.
The motions had almost unanimous support.
"It's crazy ... in a mining camp there is 100% offset but with a house in town it's only 50% offset," she said.
"We want people to live in these towns but there's only half the benefit. They're not going to do it, are they?"
Ms Landry says she's not afraid to stand up to her southern colleagues and that she was the first Federal member ever to set foot on a BMA mine, something she finds astounding.
"You have to get out there and do it … one day I'm in a suit in Canberra, and the next week I'll be in dump trucks and drag lines covered in dirt and hi-viz gear.
"With an issue like FIFO, I stood up against the State Government … I suppose we're all very concerned about the Queensland and national economy and I try to work with them as much as I can, but the more I get into this the more I realise it's not about being best of friends with your state colleagues, it's about representing the electorate.
"I stood up against my federal colleagues about the Northern Australia plan.
"Once we saw the white paper had come out and we weren't mentioned, that's when we started … we went to war.
"And we're winning the battle. It wasn't the final draft but I wasn't prepared to sit back and wait … we had a few blues at some of these meetings.
"CQUniversity was listed as a minor player … no, no, no. We got onto that."
In her maiden speech, which she described as terrifying, Ms Landry spoke about the reawakening of Capricornia and says that is happening.
She says the people want positivity and leadership, and that she's promoting Central Queensland every time there's an opportunity to do it.
"I don't waste time with speeches in Parliament bagging the opposition; my speeches are about Capricornia.
"I don't profess to be an expert. I've just made myself do it. The more you get into it, and the more you understand how it all works, the more confident you get.
"It's not about the party, it's about us in Capricornia.
"Not everyone will agree with me, but I'm fighting hard for what I think is best for the region.
"Some people have tried to tear me apart but I'm too busy to listen to that nonsense anymore."
- First Federal MP to visit a BMA coal mine.
- Took the issue of 100% FIFO to the National party room, joint party room and LNP state convention. The State Government conceded and announced it would no longer approve 100% FIFO.
- Pushed for a fair go for CQ in the Northern Australia hearings and to ensure Eden Bann and Rookwood Weirs were put on the list of regional water projects earmarked for priority development.
- Lobbied for mobile phone communications at Clarke Creek.
- Continues to promote the diversity of Capricornia as "more than coal and bulldust".
- Lobbied for the region's sugar cane and pineapple farmers. Parliament recently announced a senate enquiry into marketing issues in the sugar industry.
- So far Ms Landry has hosted 14 senior government ministers and senators to CQ.
- Successfully lobbied to have $2 million in funding reinstated for a mental health facility in Rockhampton.