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  Issue No 87 Official Organ of LaborNet 10 March 2001  




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The Battle for Bennelong

By Louise Beard

Many trade unionists are working to kick John Howard out of office. But only one woman has a chance of kicking him out of his own seat. Meet Nicole Campbell.



"This woman is planning to topple the PM." Not really a statement one takes lightly. Especially when it is written in bold above your photo in the Sun-Herald.

Nicole Campbell's response is enthusiastic. "It was excellent coverage," she says of the recent article on her endorsement as the ALP candidate for the seat of Bennelong. "I was really pleased with it."

The seat of Bennelong is held currently by the Prime Minister, John Howard, explaining much of the media interest in Nicole. And rightly so: In the recent Referendum, for instance, Nicole ran a successful campaign for the 'Yes' vote - resulting in a 5% majority for the Republic in Howard's electorate, despite his opposition.

As a 29 year old environmental scientist, Nicole has plenty of things outside of politics to keep her busy.

"I was seconded from the EPA [Environment Protection Agency] to the OCA [Olympic Coordination Authority] in 1998 and have been there ever since," she says.

"At first I managed the Environmental Policy and Liaison Unit. Then I got an opportunity in the lead up to the Games to manage the open space - manage how people would use the space in Olympic Park and how the Games would work safely."

The best part of job was watching everything come online and knowing that you'd had a part in shaping the direction of it. The Games were just an awesome experience," says Nicole.

But with the Games behind us, the OCA will soon become the Sydney Olympic Park Authority. Nicole is equally enthusiastic about her new role.

"The challenge for the Environment Group and for my role within it is to ensure the commitment we had [to the environment] in the lead up to the Games isn't lost and that we retain it as a legacy for the people of NSW," she says.

Nicole is also a very active and enthusiastic member of APESMA.

"I joined APESMA when I started at the EPA in '94," she says.

"I wanted to find out how the Association works so I started coming along to Branch Committee meetings in 1996. In 1997 I was elected to the Committee and became Chair of the Professional Issues Sub-Committee.

For me, that is very exciting because you get to look at some of the professional issues that face the different disciplines APESMA covers- scientists, engineers, people in the IT industry, vets, pharmacists, architects. It's fascinating to hear other people's professional issues and to draw parallels with them."

Nicole was then also elected to APESMA's Federal Committee of Management.

"That's where we established the working group for setting a policy agenda for a national strategy for women," she says. "A big part of that was the establishment of the National Women's Coordinator."

"New South Wales Branch was really the driver for that nationally because we used the examples from New South Wales, like the first set of women's negotiating skills seminars."

Nicole is hopeful the role of the National Women's Coordinator will grow in the future. "I expect it will become a powerful force and a resource for the National Assembly and the Board to utilise in setting the future agenda for APESMA," she says.

And of her own political agenda in Bennelong?

"I'm campaigning on a number of issues: education, aged care, women's issues," Nicole says.

"As a professional scientist, better recognition and investment in science and technology is obviously something that I am also passionate about."

"It's a sector of the community that has been completely forgotten," she says. "It is a great shame that it has taken five years of disinvestment and disinterest by the Howard Government to bring things to the head that resulted in his Innovation Statement."

Nicole says the Innovation Statement -incorporating a promised injection of funds into our flailing science and technology sectors - does little to alleviate her concerns.

"Science is absolutely integral to the health and wealth of society," she says.

"We need to take a long term view of it - you can't partition research into election cycles. I know the frustration of begging for grants where you know that you are doing some very useful things and in five or six years you'll have something to show for it. But it's very difficult to work in an environment where you are always wondering whether your funding is going to be continued.

I just hope that science and technology professionals are the winners out of this election. Labor is the only political party truly committed to realising the long term value of investing in science and technology" she said


*   Visit APESMA

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 87 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Working Woman
Cheryl Kernot on women in the workplace, Labor's male culture and where Meg went wrong.
*  Activists: Honouring Our Heroes
Anna Stewart changed the lives of Australian working families by helping women achieve balance between the competing demands of work and family.
*  Women: The Future is Female
Julia Gillard outlines the campaign to increase female representation within the Australian Labor Party.
*  Unions: Sweatshops � Beyond 2001
FairWear convenor Debbie Carstens looks over a unique partnership between churches and unions to end exploitation in the textile industry.
*  Politics: The Battle for Bennelong
Many trade unionists are working to kick John Howard out of office. But only one woman has a chance of kicking him out of his own seat. Meet Nicole Campbell.
*  International: Border Skirmishes
Alana Kerr travelled to Thailand to observe first hand the battle to organise Burmese women workers in exile.
*  History: Inside the Ladies Lounge
The McDonald sisters run Trades Hall, and have for over half a century. The building can�t speak about what has gone on in that time, but Lorna and Elaine probably know it all.
*  Satire: Taliban to Put One Nation Last
The Parliamentary fate of Pauline Hanson�s One Nation party was further obscured today as key fellow right-wing extremists moved to distance themselves from the controversial Queensland politician and the group she founded and leads.
*  Review: Seven Steps to Slavation
Jenny Macklin details the seven barriers that stand between women and a better working life.

»  Sweat Stains the Great Aussie Cossie
»  Chinks Emerge in Carr�s Call Centre Stonewall
»  Telstra Called on Part-Time Work
»  ACTU Pushes for Reasonable Hours
»  Ruddock Faces Legal Action Over Working Visas
»  National Textiles Revisited: More Workers Dumped
»  New on the Menu: Home Delivery AWAs
»  Pay Equity Case Up And Running
»  Child Care OH&S 'a Time Bomb'
»  New Precedent for Workers with Print Disabilities
»  Australian Shippers Promote Slavery
»  Ambos Tried Without a Jury
»  Unions Cautious Over New Insurance Deal
»  Fears Over Future of Unfair Contracts
»  APESMA Launches Professional Women�s Network Directory
»  Women�s Gateway Launched
»  EMILY's List Raises Flag for Women Candidates
»  Web Pioneer Goes Global
»  Public Education Day on March 15
»  Activists Notebook

»  The Soapbox
»  The Locker Room
»  Trades Hall
»  Tool Shed

Letters to the editor
»  Viva La Shane!
»  Still the Same
»  Sydney Council Tip of Iceberg
»  New Battle Grounds
»  Patricks Footnote
»  The Ripple Effect

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