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Senator Fielding is a member of the Australian Senate, elected from the state of Victoria. He is the Federal Parliamentary Leader of the Family First Party in Australia.

Senator Fielding knows a lot about families – he grew up in a family of 16 children and is a proud family man himself. He has been married to Susan for 24 years and they have three children: James, 20, Campbell, 18 and Gabrielle, 15. Steve and Sue live in Wantirna South, an outer suburb of Melbourne.

Steve, who is 48, was born in Reservoir in Melbourne’s northern suburbs. As a child growing up he thought his family was the typical Aussie family – however Steve now realises that ‘typical’ is not the best way to describe the Fielding family.

Steve’s parents, George and Shirley, were both only children. But they just loved kids– so much so they kept having them. They stopped when they got to 16! Today, George is 81 and Shirley is 78. They still live in the family home at Reservoir, where they care for one of Steve’s sisters, Sandra, who has an intellectual disability. George worked at a hardware supplies company in the city called McPhersons. He started there as an office boy when he was 16 and stayed there 40 years. He did a lot of overtime and had a second job on Saturday mornings to bring in extra money. Steve has seven sisters and eight brothers, aged from 57 to 36. No twins or triplets. Steve is seven down from the top.

He and his siblings attended the local Keon Park Primary School and then Merrilands High School.

Shirley’s parents lived nearby and Steve’s gran used to stay with the family from Monday to Friday to help out. She slept in a fold out bed in the hallway which was packed up during the daytime.

The Fielding family didn’t have much money or material things but what Shirley and George did give their kids was plenty of love, time and an education. They taught Steve values such as honesty and respect for others and gave him things he’ll have with him forever; a sense of purpose, of who he is and what he could aspire to. They also taught him that happiness comes from family, not money. And they instilled in him the obligation to contribute to the community.

After finishing high school, Steve did a Bachelor of Engineering degree at RMIT University which he completed in 1983. He then started work at Hewlett Packard where he met Susan, who also worked there.

Steve later moved into management and executive roles with NEC and Siemens, and completed a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at Monash University in 1992.

Later that year Steve and his family moved to Wellington in New Zealand where he took up an executive role with Telecom NZ. They returned to Australia in 1995. Steve worked with United Energy and then Yellow Pages. For the last five years, he has been with one of Victoria’s largest superannuation funds, Vision Super (formerly Local Authority Super).

A passion for local issues saw Steve elected as a councillor to Knox City Council in 2003 and 2004. Steve stood as a Victorian Senate candidate for the FAMILY FIRST Party in the 2004 election and took up his position in the Senate on July 1, 2005. Steve thinks not enough time is spent discussing how economic pressures are affecting families.

It is well known that parents would like to have more children than they do and an Australian Institute of Family Studies report has found one-third of men and women will have fewer children than they would like. However, it seems that nothing can be done to change this situation. Many single incomes are no longer sufficient to support a family, but nobody asks why. Our tax-free threshold is below the subsistence level, but bringing the tax-free threshold up to this level is not the top priority for political parties.

All the political parties talk about ‘family-friendly’ policies, but it seems they are really market-friendly. You only have to read what employer organisations say about the obligations of employers to be ‘family-friendly’ to work that out, and if we did not get the message the managing partner of a leading national law firm removed any doubts when he said of his employees “You don’t have a right to any free time”. (Australian Financial Review, 22/3/2005)

Steve’s hope is that the presence of FAMILY FIRST will start to turn this situation around.