Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Slaughterhouse Floor to MP; IAN THOMPSON Speaks with Janelle Saffin about Her Past and Plans for the Future

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Slaughterhouse Floor to MP; IAN THOMPSON Speaks with Janelle Saffin about Her Past and Plans for the Future

Article excerpt

IMAGINE this: you're a 13-year-old girl from a fractured family and you leave school to get some money into your troubled Housing Commission home in Ipswich.

You try hairdressing but are told you're two years too young to get an apprenticeship. Another job comes up, at an abattoir and you take it.

Most of us tucking into chops or a slice of rump would rather forget where it came from. A meatworks is a place of blood, mud and guts.

The 13-year-old girl is Janelle Anne Saffin a now Federal Member for Page in the Gillard Government. Her job at Ipswich slaughterhouse was to tag the carcasses that moments before were living animals before being butchered and dragged to the boning room.

I caught up with her over tea at the Ulmarra pub and asked about that job.

aIt was tough work and a tough environment,a Saffin said. aI was the only female on the floor and there was a lot of crude banter. But the money was good and we needed every cent.a

Although Saffin abandoned her early school years to support herself, she was determined to kick-start her education. And she did it in fine style a earning qualifications in teaching and law in her 20s.

She gained certification in various areas of TAFE before moving to Lismore at the age of 24. Saffin worked in the hospitality industry a pulling beer at Tatts Hotel, Lismore Workers Club and Casino RSM Club before buying Coraki's Club Hotel.

Politics was not far from her mind. aI was concerned that people a particularly women and children a were not getting a fair deal,a she says, gazing across the Clarence River. aIt was hard for women to be heard and I wanted to do something about that.

aSo I became the co-ordinator of a women's refuge and established a domestic violence committee involving local police a the first of its kind outside Sydney.a

Her first entry into the political arena came when she ran as the Labor candidate for the seat of Lismore in the 1991 state election, only to be defeated by the Nationals' Bill Rixon.

Four years later she won preselection for the eighth and last winnable position on the Labor ticket for the Legislative Council in the 1995 state election. …

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