We catch up with Kevin Hogan to talk about life, politics and community.
TrueBlue Magazine - April/May 2019
Words by: Michelle Hespe
A pollie’s life is always packed with projects, events and an endless stream of meetings, but with the federal election coming up in May, Nationals MP Kevin Hogan is immersed in a particularly busy period. “There sure is a lot going on at the moment,” he reveals, “but I enjoy that, and the fact that in this job you can make a real difference in people’s lives, both on a personal and community level.”
The Member for Page is heavily involved with a host of infrastructure projects happening now and launching soon in his region. “Where do I start?” he says with a laugh. “There’s the new Woolgoolga Surf Club, the Maclean Riverside Precinct, the Woodburn Foreshore Redevelopment, the Wollongbar Multi-Sports Facility, an expanded Oakes Oval, the replacement of wooden bridges in Kyogle, the upgrade of the Casino Saleyards and the new Casino Drill Hall Precinct.
“We’ll also soon have a new medicinal cannabis facility in our region, and when that’s operational, it could employ more than 250 people. Bringing more employment to this region is something I am particularly passionate about.”
Some of the biggest issues in regional Australia at present are drought, flooding and bushfires, and while Kevin’s region has been affected by the drought, he says his community isn’t in as bad a shape as those out west. “We had bushfires at Tabulam recently, which caused much devastation,” he explains. “During this tough period, I spent time with our wonderful RFS volunteers and other groups who have helped to financially and emotionally support those affected by the fires. My heartfelt thanks go to them.
“The Australian spirit shines through when people are in need, and the selfless acts that I often see truly inspire me. I love being out and about and involved in people’s lives, helping wherever I can – it is definitely one of the privileges of the job.”
Being relatable and approachable is crucial in politics, and country folk can relate to Kevin. He’s a family man who lives on a small farm near Lismore with his wife Karen – a nurse at the local hospital – and their three children. “Our kids and Karen give me purpose in life, and I’m very proud of them all,” he says. “Karen and I hang out a lot together when we can, and she tries to come with me in my role as MP, which makes it a lot easier and more enjoyable being on the road.”
In many ways, Kevin followed in the footsteps of his parents, who raised him and his three older sisters in regional South Australia. “I had a very modest upbringing, playing a lot of sport – and while we didn’t have a lot of money, I never felt I wanted for anything,” he says. “Our mother in particular was a very loving and supportive parent, and she gave us great faith in ourselves. Mum and Dad were also big community people, like Karen and I. They were involved in their church and numerous community and sporting organisations. I love this aspect about being in a regional community. I love being part of it all.”
Faith in Australia
As you’d expect of someone who has dedicated himself to serving the community, Kevin is incredibly patriotic. “I have much admiration for the founders of our nation and the democracy we have in Australia. We are a successful country due to a lot of hard work, and people’s faith in our institutions. I don’t take any of that for granted – which is why I got involved in politics in the first place.”
On that note, Page is a marginal seat, so it’s hard to guess what will happen when the election rolls around. “I lost my first election and have won the last two, so I don’t take this position for granted,” Kevin confesses. “I’d like to win in May, and from there, anything else is a bonus. I love my job, and I love being a part of the Nationals team, and I have a lot of gratitude for being chosen as my community’s representative in Canberra.”
As anyone who’s had a brush with politics knows, you need a thick skin to be successful. “The vast majority of people are great, even the ones who don’t vote for you!” Kevin laughs. “On the rare occasion people are rude or obnoxious, I just try to laugh it off. I also have plenty of other great things to focus on, such as being a good husband and a great father. These things are really important to me.
“I’m far from perfect but I strive to be better all the time. Having patience, being true to yourself, taking risks, giving people your time: these things are also really important to me. Hopefully, in this role I will continue to be able to live by these principles and make a difference to other people’s lives.”
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