More about Damian
Born and bred in the Goulburn Valley, I’m proud to be delivering back to this fantastic part of rural Northern Victorian as the Federal Member for Nicholls.
I was born in Shepparton, grew up on a dairy farm in Congupna and I am the youngest of seven children and having growing up in a big family, on a family farm, in a small town, it has always been second nature to me to pitch in to help improve my communities. I completed school up to year 11 at St. Colmans and Assumption College, going straight into an apprenticeship after school which saw me become a qualified carpenter and joiner. During this time I played footy for Congupna on the side.
In 1981 at age 21 I was drafted by Geelong Football Club to play in what was at the time the VFL (now AFL) and I played with the club until my retirement in 1989, racking up 63 games. Towards the end of my career with Geelong I had started my own steel fabrication and construction business in Werribee, which I continued to run until I moved into coaching in 1993.
My coaching career started in the Victorian Football Association with the Werribee and Port Melbourne clubs. In late 1993 I was offered the first full-time Assistant Coach position in the AFL for the Sydney Swans under Ron Barassi, and then Rodney Eade. I relocated to Sydney to take this role and held the position until 1998, when I took on the Senior Coach position at Fremantle. As often happens in football, I lost the Senior Coach role in 2001 and relocated to Bendigo to take up the coaching position of the VFL Bendigo Diggers.
I had always been interested in politics but hadn’t once considered a career in it, however when the opportunity arose to run for a Victorian Legislative Council seat for The Nationals in late 2002 I jumped at it. I had realised during my time with Bendigo that the path back to my previous dream job of being a senior AFL coach was going to be a very long one, and that it may never come to fruition. This opportunity in politics gave me the potential to engage with the real-world issues that don’t exist in the narrow world of football, and I am very grateful that I took the opportunity.
Entering a political campaign was an eye opening experience with a steep ‘on the job’ learning curve. The longer I was in the campaign the more I realised how little I had known about how the community operated. It was a busy but very enjoyable and exciting time, as when you see how much you can achieve as part of a political team, the more it makes you want to achieve.
In the November 2002 Victorian state election I successfully secured a seat as a Legislative Council Member for the North-Western Province (later renamed Northern Victoria) for The Nationals. I served in this role until April of 2016, including a period in 2014 as the Minister for Sport and Recreation and the Minister for Veterans Affairs in the Napthine Ministry. In April 2016 I relinquished my seat in the Victorian upper house so I could contest the federal seat of Murray after Sharman Stone announced her retirement from the long-term Liberal seat, that represents the area where I grew up.
I won the seat of Murray at the July 2016 Federal Election for the 45th Australian Parliament, in a three corner contest with the Liberal Party and Labor. In mid-2018 it was announced that at the 2019 election seat of Murray would change names to Nicholls. In the May 2019 election I contested the new seat, and I again won the seat to become the first Federal Member for Nicholls in the 46th Australian Parliament.
In both the 45th and 46th Parliaments I have also held the role of Chief Nationals Whip. The role of the Chief Whip can best be described as like that of a team manager, you need to make sure everyone knows their roles and has what they need to get their jobs done. The National Party’s priority is to continue to build strong and sustainable communities outside of Australia’s capitals. We understand that strong regional and rural areas are critical to a strong Australia.
I have five adult children and my lovely partner Ros has two. We also share two dachshunds Frankie and Evie. In my spare time I enjoy following any kind of sport, reading, spending time with the family, travelling, and exercising.
More about Nicholls
The Nicholls electorate was renamed Nicholls at the 2019 election, having previously been known as Murray.
The Nicholls electorate is 14,768 sq km.
The Nicholls electorate sits between the federal electorates of Mallee and Bendigo (to the west), McEwen (to the south), Indi (to the east), and Farrer (to the north, on the other side of the northern NSW border edging Nicholls).
To see which State and Local Government areas fall within Nicholls visit my page: Which government does what?
Key population centres in Nicholls (by population size) are Shepparton, Mooroopna and Kialla, Echuca, Yarrawonga, Kyabram, Seymour, Cobram, Numurkah, Tatura, Broadford, Rochester, Nagambie, Nathalia, Tongala, Rushworth, Gunbower, Lockington, Tungahmah, Dookie, Tallarook, Avenel, Katematite, Strathmerton, Merrigum, Girgarre, and Stanhope.
Farming (including dairy and sheep) and agriculture (including wheat, wineries and orchards), and processing (including fruit, and both wholesale and consumer goods).
The Nicholls electorate is named after Sir Douglas Ralph Nicholls and his wife Lady Gladys Nicholls, in recognition of their significant contribution in advocating for Aboriginal rights and welfare. Like Damian, Sir Nicholls had a career in sport before his career in politics.