Julie Collins has been sworn in as Small Business Minister, and although her name hasn’t been splashed across the front pages over the years, she’s been a Labor stalwart with ministerial positions in both the Rudd and Gillard governments.
Heralding from the left faction, Collins has held political aspirations since she was youngster. She was the state president of Young Labor in 1996, before serving as the state secretary of the ALP a decade later in 2006.
Collins has been shadow minister for ageing and seniors, shadow minister for women, and shadow minister for agriculture in the past, but has gained the Small Business, Housing, and Homelessness portfolios in Albanese’s government. It could suggest a new direction for SME issues, as the small business remit is typically tied to skills and employment.
Here are some other quick things to know about the new Small Business Minister.
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Collins did not graduate high school
She’s is one of just four members of the last parliament that did not graduate high school (the others being Jacqui Lambie, Llew O’Brien and Terry Young). Collins did enroll in college to complete her final two years but ran into financial troubles and could not continue. But she didn’t let it hold her back , later gaining a certificate IV in business administration.
Collins has won her seat of Franklin six consecutive times since 2007 (and is the first woman in the seat — ever!)
… But she lost the race for the seat of Denison in the 2006 state election just one year prior, a testament to never giving up on your dreams. The Tasmanian electorate of Franklin, which includes Huon Valley, parts of Clarence and Kingsborough, as well as Macquarie Island, is known for its apples, pears, fishing, cattle, vineyards and tourism.
Collins heralds from forestry heartland in Tasmania, positioning her well to drive the agribusiness boom
She was appointed shadow agriculture minister in 2021, replacing Ed Husic. At the time the Australian Forest Products Association deputy CEO Victor Violante applauded the move, saying Collins brought an understanding of the importance of the forestry sector to the national economy and to her home state of Tasmania.
A newly-minted Collins was the subject of a Liberal smear campaign for stumbling her words
Back in 2013, a 17-second commercial posted on the LiberalPartyTV YouTube account made fun of the MP — who had been newly promoted to Kevin Rudd’s cabinet — for stumbling over her words during a press conference. Collins retorted that the Coalition had sunk to a personal attack ad because it had no policies.
Collins helped launch Boardlinks — an initiative aimed to get more women into leadership in public and private sector boards
“One of the most significant hurdles facing women being appointed to boards is a requirement for prior board experience. However this can be self-perpetuating because too few women hold board positions to begin with,” Collins, the then-minister for the status of women, said.
“That’s why BoardLinks’ first focus will be on appointing women to their first government board role, thereby expanding the pool of women who can be appointed to board positions in the corporate sector.”
Collins topped a list of Tasmania’s federal MP expenses from April-June 2021
She spent $158,711.24 in the three-month period, according to figures published by the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority, though fellow MPs Brian Mitchell ($147,518.57) and Richard Colbeck ($143,668.01) were close behind. Collins said more than half of it was spent on information about the pandemic and providing opportunities for her constituents to engage with her about the issues they’re facing.
Collins lives on Hobart’s eastern shore with her husband Ian
And check out the winter wonderland view! She had three kids — Georgie (who was recently married), Lochie and Xandy. She also seems to have a bit of a soft spot for chickens, namely here, and here, and here, and here. Oh, and she loves Caramilk Hokey Pokey chocolate.