Jo-Ann Miller celebrates 10 years as State Member
IT WAS a combination of Gough Whitlam, strong family union ties, and some pretty shabby classrooms that led Jo-Ann Miller into politics.
It was in 1970, at the age of 13, when the Bremer State High School student joined the Labor Party, vowing to one day fix the classrooms at her school if she ever was in a position of power.
Later, still as a school student, she wrote a letter to The Queensland Times complaining about long grass on a council patch of land – it was promptly fixed the next day.
Fast forward to 2010 and the now-Member for Bundamba – who this year celebrates 10 years in the job – says it was those instances in her early years that led her into politics.
"I was made secretary of the Dinmore Riverview Labor Party branch that night as a 13-year-old," she laughs.
"I always had an interest in politics. With my father and his family being involved in mining and the mining union at the time – the Queensland Colliers Employees' Union – I'd always been around politics.
"But even then I never imagined I would be here now in this position."
Mrs Miller celebrated her 10th anniversary as the Member for Bundamba with a function at the Booval Bowls Club last night.
Along with proud family members – including husband Neil and daughters Brianna (19) and Stephanie Clarke (26) – she was joined at the function by Labor Party members, trade unionists and community leaders.
She told the QT in the lead-up to her anniversary party that her 10 years in parliament had flown by.
Mrs Miller first became the Member for Bundamba in a by-election in February 2000.
The incumbent MP Bob Gibbs, whom Mrs Miller had worked for as a staffer, had retired from his position three months earlier for health reasons.
Having also worked for Labor MPs Bill Hayden and Peter Pyke, she won pre-selection for the seat and claimed the by-election with 70 per cent of the two-party preferred vote.
She said in her 10 years as an MP, her greatest achievements included improving schools in the region and improving health services such as creating the Goodna Medical Centre.
Mrs Miller also said she was proud of the renewal projects undertaken in Department of Housing homes, infrastructure projects such as the Ipswich Motorway and Centenary Highway upgrades, and introducing work-skilling projects.
She said the hardest issues she had to deal with included the Dr Jayant Patel scandal at the Bundaberg Hospital, as she was the parliamentary secretary for health at the time.
But the biggest problem in her electorate was the subsidence problems in her home suburb of Collingwood Park.
Although enjoying a look back over the past 10 years, Mrs Miller said she had enough energy to carry on for another decade at least.
"I think I mentioned in my maiden speech to parliament that in my electorate we have the 'have everythings', the 'haves', the 'have nots' and the 'have absolutely nothings', and those differences still exist," she said.
"Young families and couples are struggling to buy their first homes now, and they're being forced to look elsewhere, which is a real shame."