First stepping into politics in 1996, Joel was influenced greatly by his father, Eric Fitzgibbon. Eric held the seat of Hunter for 12 years from 1984 before his son was elected. Since succeeding his father, Joel has served in Labor governments as minister for defence, and minister for agriculture, fisheries and forestry.
Before entering politics, Joel was an auto-electrician running his own business for more than 10 years. In addition to this trade, Joel received a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from the University of Newcastle.
It isn’t all work and no play for Joel. A former footballer himself, he is now a proud patron of both the Newcastle Knights and his local club, Cessnock.
A man of all trades, Joel is a local success story with a strong drive to give back, in particular to regional and rural Australia.
Which Catholic schools did you attend?
St Patrick’s Primary Cessnock and Maitland Marist Brothers.
Why did your parents choose Catholic Schools for you?
Because they are Catholics.
What is your favourite memory from your schooling years?
Winning the 100-metre sprint in Year 6.
Why did you decide to enter politics?
I was influenced by my father’s involvement and learned it was a great way of helping people and making Australia a better place.
You have held the position of Member for Hunter for 23 years, and have just been re-elected. What do you enjoy most about your role?
Assisting people who have no power and the opportunity to give people the best chance of fully participating in the economy and the community.
What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?
I once supported the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
June 10 – 16 celebrates Men’s Health Week. How important is it for your mental strength and personal wellbeing to be part of an organisation that has a healthy and supportive work environment?
I’ve always felt that people who are busy and who work in healthy environments are the most likely to enjoy good mental health. Idleness is a curse.
What is your biggest motivation in life?