I was born in the country town of Nambour in Queensland in 1954 and grew up on the Sunshine Coast, where I still surf and holiday with my family when I can. I was educated at Nambour Primary School and Nambour State High School.
I got involved in public life and joined the Labor Party because I passionately believe, whoever you are, wherever you were born, we all deserve a fair go. Everyone should have the opportunity to access secure employment and affordable health, education and housing.
I moved to Brisbane to undertake a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree from the University of Queensland. I later went on to lecture in public policy at the Queensland Institute of Technology (now QUT) for 12 years.
I was elected to Parliament as the Member for the Brisbane seat of Lilley from 1993 to 1996, and from 1998 to the present.
Prior to entering Parliament I had many jobs and was involved in all areas of community and public life. I chaired Labor's Caucus Economics Committee from 1993 to 1996. I was the State Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the Australia Labor Party and campaign director for Wayne Goss' historic election victories in 1989 and 1992. I was the Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services from 1998 to 2004 before becoming Labor's Shadow Treasurer from 2004.
In 2005 I published a book called Postcode which tells a story about how our society has become a patchwork quilt of winners and losers across all our postcodes. I wrote it because it's clear to me that it has become harder and harder for people of humble origins, or living humbly, to have their voices heard in our country's political and policy debate.
During my time in Federal Parliament I have been associated, in particular, with reform of the tax and transfer payments system; labour market participation; climate change; ageing and population policy; and standing up for the disadvantaged. My twin objectives in public life have always been to create prosperity so we can spread opportunity. The most important thing - apart from the essentials of life: food, shelter and clothing - is to have good relationships within your family and within your community. And the best way to make sure that everyone has the chance to be well looked after by a loving family is to have strong communities. A shared sense of responsibility for one another is what makes communities strong, and builds the foundations of a fair and vibrant society.
As a prostate cancer survivor I am a vocal and tireless advocate for the early detection of the disease. If we can co-ordinate our action, if we can get the resources behind that action, and if we can tap the minds of the best and the brightest in the medical research community to achieve advances we can make a difference in eradicating this disease from the globe.
Today I live in the northern suburbs of Brisbane, in the same house I have lived in since the early 1980s. I am married to Kim and we have three wonderful children; Erinn, Libbi and Matt. In my spare time I enjoy nothing better than spending time with my family- relaxing on the back deck having a barbeque and listening to the girls sing, or playing a bit of cricket with Matt.