There is no such thing as a typical workday for the Member for South Brisbane, Jackie Trad, apart from that “it starts early and ends late”.
“During the week there’s a lot of meeting with constituents, trying to get information that they need to resolve some of their problems,” says Jackie, who has been in the job just over a year after winning the by-election when former Premier Anna Bligh resigned. “There’s a lot of liaising with both Helen Abrahams (local councillor) and Kevin Rudd (federal) as the other local members in the area. We work as a really cohesive team, which is important because as you can appreciate people’s problems don’t stop at one level of government; they traverse all of the levels of government depending on their complexity.”
Jackie’s interest in politics started at an early age and she has strong memories of political unrest both in Australia and in her parent’s native Lebanon. “In 1983, I remember Bob Hawke being elected, and I also remember a lot of the protests that were going on in Queensland, even as a small child, around the right to demonstrate, the right to I guess run campaigns against the government of the day. We have a history in Queensland where political dissent or having a difference of opinion isn’t necessarily accepted by conservative governments, so I was really aware of those events happening.”
Spending time in Lebanon in 1979 at the height of the civil war also had an impact on Jackie, who was just seven years old then. “Living in a place that was war torn, you can’t help but be politicised by that, particularly at such a young, impressionable age. You can’t help but be acutely aware of what war does to people, to families and to any hopes of where your life is going to go.”
Back in Australia, Jackie grew up in East Brisbane just around the corner from the Gabba but always had a strong connection to nearby West End. “Growing up as Middle Eastern migrants, mum quickly sussed out where all the best delis in Brisbane were and they were in West end. I grew up going to Mick’s Nuts, and Samios in Woolloongabba.”
West End really holds some cherished childhood associations and memories and that’s the stuff that I still love about West End – its diversity, its multiculturalism, its love of food and culture, and a great sense of community.
When she is not working, Jackie is spending time with her energetic young sons Leo and Vinnie. Cooking is also a favourite way to relax, when she can find the time.
“For me, cooking is a long therapeutic exercise and getting that stretch of time has been really difficult, but I do love cooking, and I love exercise. It’s really important to stay healthy and fit in this sort of a job. It’s physically demanding as well as emotionally and mentally demanding.”
Words by Leah Carri | Images by Darlia Argyris