Queensland Liberal National Party Senator-elect Matthew Canavan

The Queensland Liberal National Party Senator spent the past three years as Chief of Staff to then-Senator Barnaby Joyce, an experience he is going to make the most of come July 1.


He told SBS that his years in Canberra have given him the ability to navigate the political system.

“You can’t get anything done on your own in Canberra,” he said.

“The simple facts are you get 76 votes in the lower house and 39 in the upper house to make any real changes to our laws and that means dealing with a lot of different people. I’ve got some experience in doing that now.”

Listen: Stephanie Anderson speaks with Matthew Canavan.

He lists both economics and rugby league among his interests – he told SBS he was excited to “be on the field [to] score some goals for Queensland” – but he said it’s rural Australia that will remain his focus in the Senate.

Fresh from a fortnight away at a remote cattle station with his former boss, Mr Canavan said he wanted to use his time in the upper house to create stronger competition laws for farmers and producers

“I don’t think they get a fair deal at the moment,” he said.

Despite the opposition from farming communities, Mr Canavan said he was in favour of the Abbott Government’s proposed fuel excise, citing economics as his reason for backing that and the push to axe the carbon tax.

“The trajectory of our debt is a real issue,” he said.

“If we don’t start turning that around, we will be in problems in 10 or 15 years.”

The former KMPG senior executive and Productivity Commission director also hopes to push for “better justice” for single income families, particularly in regards to taxation.

Though he remains uncertain about negotiations with his new Senate colleagues, he said he has faith that the system will return to that seen prior to the 2010 intake, when no major party held the balance of power.

“I think, I hope, I know most of the cross benchers will have good faith in those negotiations,” he said.

“I think we’ll get a lot of things past and do better than what people expect.”

Senator Canavan has since taken to Twitter to celebrate his first day on the job.

1st of July. I suppose that makes me a Senator now. Very proud and honoured. A big job ahead #qld #senate #auspol

— Matthew Canavan (@mattjcan) June 30, 2014