The now former State Member for Williamstown Wade Noonan has revealed that his own father, The Honourable Bill Noonan OAM, was and still is a great influence on him after teaching him about integrity and the basic value of a fair go for all.
“My father was and still is a great influence on me. He taught me the basic value of a fair go, a fair go for all no matter where it is, whether it’s in a workplace or whether it’s in the community,” Mr Noonan said.
“He also taught me about integrity and the need to maintain integrity in every position that you hold. I’ve always tried to put myself into a working environment where I can work with people who I can admire and respect, and I’ve been very lucky on the way through.”
Initially following in the footsteps of his father who was a long-time Transport Workers Union of Australia (TWU) official and Victorian state secretary, Wade Noonan first became involved in the union movement in 1996.
Landing a job at the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), Mr Noonan spent six years as an organiser before shifting to the TWU in 2002, where he became federal assistant secretary and federal organising and training officer.
In July 2007, Steve Bracks, the then Premier of Victoria and Member for Williamstown, suddenly announced his intention to retire from politics. Wade Noonan put his hand up for preselection despite never having an ambition for public office or a desire to be a politician.
“I never set myself on a political path like others had and do from a very early age, and that is still to be commended because a lot of people do want to cut their way through to a path in political life,” Mr Noonan said.
“For me, I got to my mid-thirties, I was ready for something new and I was living in Williamstown with my wife and at that stage two very young sons and that was really honestly the first time I thought maybe I should do it.”
“I thought… this is where I live, this is the party that I love, and this is the cause that I’ve pursued in my professional life, and I put all of those things together and I remember having a discussion with my wife Julie and thinking well I’ll have a go.”
“Whilst it wasn’t an impulsive decision to stand, and I did have an urging to want to do something else, there was plenty of encouragement from those people that I sought advice from, have a discussion with about why I should do this and what I had to offer the party.”
Wade Noonan was elected to the Victorian Parliament on 15 September 2007, defeating Greens candidate, former City of Maribyrnong mayor and future Senator Janet Rice. It is a day which Mr Noonan vividly recalls.
“I was extremely proud, will always stay with me as one of the proudest days of professional life. What drove me there, I think a lifetime of experience and a clear desire to apply my own ability, skills and experience to the great Labor cause,” Mr Noonan said.
One of the many people which Wade Noonan credits as being a great political mentor for him is The Honourable Joan Kirner AC who fought to continue Labor’s legacy that her, Steve Bracks and others had been a part of, until she lost her own battle to cancer in 2013.
“I’ve had the privilege of getting to know people like the late Joan Kirner who was a great political mentor for me, Steve Bracks who has been a great supporter at every turn. So, those individual people have been terrific supporters and mentors for me,” Mr Noonan said.
“I still remember the last conversation I had with Joan Kirner in the weeks before she died. She was just full of encouragement. By that stage I was a new minister and she spent most of the time listening to me talk because she had a great way with people.”
“She was very interested in assisting people such as myself, newer people into the parliament, newer people into the ministry, to make sure that we could continue the legacy that people like her, Steve and so many others that have served our party.”
Wade Noonan is proud of his pathway to politics as not being through a university pathway but rather through ‘the school of hard knocks and real-life working experiences’ and encourages anyone considering a pathway to political life to pick a path that suits them.
Volunteerism is one of the many potential pathways available under some of the major party structures. Speaking on the very loyal Labor members and volunteers, Wade Noonan said he has had the privilege of meeting many great characters over many years.
“To those very loyal Labor members and volunteers. It never ceases to amaze me how hard they’re prepared to work, in the driving rain, in the hot sun, year in year out, and I’ve had the privilege of meeting many great characters over many years,” Mr Noonan said.
“To those loyal, dedicated and committed people who give hours of their life for our great cause… it really does make a difference when you’re a Member of Parliament, you never ever forget the people that you’re there for and the people that work for you to get there.”