Michael has lived and worked in the Riverina all his life.
He was raised on family farms at Marrar and Brucedale and went to school at Saint Michael’s Regional and Trinity Senior High Schools in Wagga Wagga.
Michael was elected as The Nationals’ Member for Riverina on 21 August 2010. He served on the Parliament’s Regional Australia Committee and proudly fought for local communities by advocating against the importation of New Zealand apples in 2011, moving a Disallowance Motion against the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in 2012 and successfully lobbying against the proposed takeover of GrainCorp by American multi-national Archer Daniels Midland in 2013.
Following the 2013 Federal Election, Michael was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance.
Michael was then appointed Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister in September 2015. In this role, Michael worked alongside The Nationals’ Leader and Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, in the administration of regional development programmes.
A reshuffle in February 2016 following the retirement of Mr Truss saw Michael become the Assistant Minister for Defence – a portfolio with key ties to the Riverina, which has two major defence bases – RAAF Base Wagga and the Home of the Solider at Kapooka.
Following the 2016 Federal Election Michael was appointed the Federal Small Business Minister and has ministerial responsibility for the nation’s 3.2 million small businesses.
As part of the Liberals & Nationals in Government, the small business tax rate has been cut to 27.5 per cent – its lowest level since the Second World War. More small businesses are also eligible for the $20,000 instant asset write-off to purchase new equipment.
Michael became the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel as well as the Minister assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC in December 2017. He also was appointed Deputy Leader of the House. Michael introduced the Veterans Affairs Legislation Amendment (Veteran-Centric Reforms No.1) Bill on 15 February 2018 which implemented several new initiatives delivering better services to veterans and their families.
On 26 February 2018 Michael was elected the 14th Leader of The Nationals and was sworn in as Australia’s 18th Deputy Prime Minister as well as the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
The Regional Development portfolio was added to Michael’s responsibilities in August 2018.
Michael has a keen interest in military history, particularly World War I, and each year produces ANZAC booklets with an emphasis on encouraging school students to write poems or short stories about ANZAC Day in the Riverina and what it means to them.
Prior to entering Parliament, Michael began professional life with a journalism cadetship with The Daily Advertiser newspaper in Wagga Wagga in 1981. Michael was assigned to report on everything from sport to court to local government, interviewing many influential and interesting newsmakers along the way. He was appointed to the newspaper’s editorship in 1991. At the age of 27, Michael was the youngest person appointed to edit of a daily newspaper in Australasia at the time.
During his career at the newspaper, Michael was a champion of many community issues.
Michael was appointed a Justice of the Peace in New South Wales in 1999.
Michael then co-founded a media and publishing small business in Wagga Wagga, which he owned and operated in partnership until he was elected to Parliament in 2010.
Michael was also a long-time Director of the Murrumbidgee Turf Club and has had a long association with his children’s school Parents & Friends Associations and boards. He has had a strong involvement with Rotary International, as a member of a Club in his hometown and was a Group Study Exchange participant in 1993.
Michael is also a keen sportsman with interests in horse racing, Australian football, Rugby League and cricket, a sport which he still regularly plays – MP commitments permitting – with Wagga Wagga’s St Michael’s Cricket Club. He is a life member of the Harlequins Hockey Club.
As a community advocate over the decades, Michael is proud to be the Riverina’s voice in Federal Parliament.