Mal Brough came gallantly to Liberal candidate Ms Charlie McKillop’s defence after her rival Nationals candidate Ian Crossland questioned whether a woman was capable of winning the seat earlier this week. “She used to actually work on a prawn trawler,” he said. “She’d take most blokes and sit them on their backsides.”

McKillop is not alone in her prawny past. The long and winding road to Canberra has many pit stops (just ask dirty commie Julia Gillard) and Crikey has trawled through the official CVs of the ministry and their respective shadows to see what kind of pasts have shaped their politics.

Spot the high achievers. (Bishop, Turnbull, have a lie down.) And the cement plant managers. And props to Jim Lloyd for his rich and varied experience across many unlikely sectors. 

Then, squint hard enough at the following list of Coalition CVs and you’ll see, peppered amongst the lawyers and the former spinners, some farmers, a few fishermen, a couple of jackaroos, a cruise master and … a cashmere goat breeder:

The Hon John Howard MP, Member for Bennelong MP: solicitor.

The Hon Mark Vaile MP, Member for: Jackeroo 1973-75, Farm machinery retailer 1975-78, Stock, Station and Real Estate agent and Auctioneer 1978-92.

The Hon Peter Costello MP, Member for: Barrister, Tutor in Law, Economics and Politics faculties, Monash University.

The Hon Alexander Downer MP: Member for Mayo: Australian Diplomatic Service 1976-82, Political Adviser to Rt Hon. JM Fraser, Prime Minister 1982-83, Director, Australian Chamber of Commerce (Canberra Secretariat) 1983-84.

The Hon Warren Truss MP, Member for Wide Bay: Farmer, Chair, Sugar Coast Burnett Regional Tourism Board 1985-89, Member, Queensland Graingrowers’ Association State Council 1979-90, Deputy Chair, Bulk Grains Queensland 1985-90.  

Senator the Hon Nicholas Minchin: Solicitor, Party official.

The Hon Tony Abbott MP, Member for Warringah: Rhodes Scholar, Journalist, Plant Manager -Pioneer Concrete, Press secretary and political adviser to the Leader of the Opposition, Dr J.R. Hewson 1990-93, Executive Director, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy 1993-94.

The Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Member for Berowra: Solicitor.

Senator the Hon Helen Coonan: Barrister and solicitor, Attorney, New York, Mediator.

The Hon Dr Brendan Nelson MP, Member for Bradfield: General medical practitioner 1985-95, Director, Hobart and Launceston After Hours Medical Services 1987-91, State President, Australian Medical Association (Tas Branch) 1990-92, Federal Vice-President, Australian Medical Association 1991-93, Federal President, Australian Medical Association 1993-95, Medical columnist 1995-97.

The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP, Member for Groom: Farmer, President, Queensland Graingrowers Association.

The Hon Kevin Andrews MP, Member for Menzies: Research solicitor, Law Institute of Victoria 1980-81, Co-ordinator, Continuing Legal Education, Law Institute of Victoria 1981-83, Associate to the Hon. Sir James Gobbo, Supreme Court of Victoria 1983-85, Barrister-at-law, Victoria 1985-91.

Senator, the Hon Chris Ellison: Articled clerk and lawyer, Legal Aid Commission of WA 1978-80, Barrister and solicitor 1980-93.

The Hon Peter McGauran MP, Member for Gippsland: Barrister and solicitor.

The Hon Mal Brough MP, Member for Longman: Military service 1979-87, Private sector business 1988-96.

The Hon Julie Bishop MP, Member for Curtin: Advanced Management Program (Senior Managers) (Harvard Business School), Barrister and solicitor 1979-98, Managing partner, Clayton Utz, Perth, WA 1994-98, Chair, Town Planning Appeal Tribunal of WA 1994-98, Senate Member, Murdoch University from 1997-98, Director, Special Broadcasting Services Television 1997-98, Director and Fellow, Australian Institute of Management 1997-98.

The Hon Joe Hockey MP, Member for North Sydney: Director of Policy to the Premier of New South Wales, Banking and finance lawyer.

The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Member for Wentworth: Rhodes Scholar (NSW 1978), Journalist 1975-79, Barrister and solicitor 1980-83 and 1986-88, Grazier 1982-2004, General Counsel and Secretary, Consolidated Press Holdings Group 1983-85, Managing Director, Turnbull and Partners Ltd 1987-97, Chairman, OzEmail Ltd 1994-99, Director, FTR Holdings Ltd 1995-2004, Chairman and Managing Director, Goldman Sachs Australia 1997-2001, Partner, Goldman Sachs and Co 1998-2001.

The Hon Jim Lloyd MP, Member for Robertson: USL Master Class IV (Brookvale Marine College), Justice of the Peace, Dairy products distributor 1973-85, Ferry master 1986, Cruise ship master and first officer 1987-92, Marina manager 1992, Service station proprietor 1993-95.

The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Member for Dickson: Police Officer 1990-99, Company Director from 1993.

The Hon Gary Nairn MP, Member for Eden-Monaro: Graduate surveyor 1972-75, Registered surveyor in private practice 1975-83, Managing director, surveying and mapping consultancy 1983-96.

The Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Member for Sturt: Research assistant to Senator AE Vanstone 1987-90, Solicitor 1991-93.

Senator the Hon David Johnston: Barrister and solicitor.

Senator the Hon George Brandis: Barrister from 1985, Appointed Senior Counsel, November 2006.

The Hon Bruce Billson MP, Member for Dunkley: Manager, Corporate Development, Shire of Hastings 1993-94, Ministerial Adviser to the State Minister for Natural Resources, the Hon. CG Coleman, MLA (Vic) 1994-96, Policy Adviser to the Federal Shadow Minister for the Environment, Senator CR Kemp 1995.

The Hon Fran Bailey MP, Member for McEwan: Secondary school teacher, Business manager of family company, Retailer 1981-85, Cashmere goat breeder and exporter 1984-90, Business consultant 1994-96.

Senator the Hon Eric Abetz: Barrister and solicitor.

Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion: Professional fisherman and owner/operator of various marine service industries, Field assistant, geophysical observer and managerial positions in the mining industry, Company director, Chair, Northern Territory Seafood Council 1994-2001, Chair, Northern Territory Seafood and Maritime Training Advisory Board 1994-98, Chair, Australian Seafood Industry Council 1996-2001, Deputy Chair, International Coalition of Fisheries Association 1998; Chair 1999.

The Hon Andrew Robb AO, MP, Member for Goldstein: Animal health officer, Dept of Agriculture (Vic) 1972-74; agricultural economist 1974-79, Part-time tutor, La Trobe University 1976-79, Economist, National Farmers’ Federation 1980; Executive Director 1985-88, Executive Director, Cattle Council of Australia 1981-84, Deputy Federal Director, Liberal Party 1988-89, Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. AS Peacock 1989-90, Federal Director, Liberal Party 1990-97, Senior Executive, PBL 1997-99, Board member, Sinclair Knight Merz 1998-2001, Chief Executive Officer, Acxiom Australia 1999-2001; Chair 2001-04, Business adviser 2001-04.

The Hon Dr Sharman Stone MP, Member for Murray: Farmer and doctoral research fellow, Manager, International Development, University of Melbourne.

Next week, the secret past lives of your Labor shadow ministry…

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