HARD work and having a go – they are the values that define Leanne Castley, a proud single Mum-of-two, country music singer and lover of cars, motorbikes and engines.
Leanne’s passions are small business and working hard for the people in her electorate of Yerrabi, so the fast-growing area continues to be a great place to live and raise a family.
Politics was never on Leanne’s radar but she was encouraged to contest the October 2020 ACT election and was thrilled and humbled to be elected.
“The chick from Charny” and a battler; that’s how Leanne described herself in her first speech on December 3, 2020, adding that she wanted to show that politics can be for hard-working, ordinary family battlers like herself.
Canberra has been home to Leanne since she was five years old, when her Dad left her Mum, so Mum Lorraine moved Leanne and older brother Barton to the ACT.
Leanne’s Auntie Lou lived in Canberra and her Mum’s parents had a sheep and cattle farm at Bookham, beyond Yass, where Leanne spent fun weekends and holidays mustering sheep and riding dirt bikes.
Lorraine was a nurse and money was tight; she instilled in her kids the importance of hard work and personal responsibility.
Leanne is proud to say she has always worked, with jobs such as office cleaner, Tupperware lady, stocking vending machines, singing teacher, tuck shop lady at her kids’ school, mechanics’ trade assistant and running a beauty parlour from her spare bedroom.
School was Flynn Primary, Charnwod High and Copland College, with Leanne’s first full-time job as an accounts clerk at Gerald Slaven Holden.
Leanne understands small business; she and her former husband ran three caryards employing five staff which, for a long time, were a great success.
Around this time she also recorded her country music album Perfect Day.
But business success didn’t last. The global financial crisis hit. They liquidated the caryards, lost the house and the marriage went too.
Then began a long career in IT, an area Leanne knew nothing about. Her first job was on an IT Help Desk.
Leanne gained a Diploma in Project Management, took all the training she could and landed roles at the AFP and Defence, managing teams of up to 10 people.
Leanne is concerned the Labor government has been in power for so long they have lost touch with the Canberra battlers; people who want to get on, who want their kids to have a good education, to learn good manners and values and to have good jobs and opportunities.
To quote from Leanne’s first speech:
“The issues, views and aspirations of my electorate, that’s what matters to me.Yerrabi residents and families do not want politicians telling them what to do.They can do that perfectly well on their own.
“But they do want politicians to be honest, to listen and to fix problems.
“I assure the good folk in my electorate that my two feet will stay firmly planted in Gungahlin soil.
“I am the chick from Charny and I don’t want to lose that. That’s who I am.”
Leanne points to her 18-year-old daughter and 23-year-old son as her proudest achievements.
Away from politics, she loves hitting the open road on her motorbike and performing in pubs and clubs around town.