Labor's Member of Lismore, Janelle Saffin, takes in her win over a quiet coffee after her win in the NSW state elections.
Labor's Member of Lismore, Janelle Saffin, takes in her win over a quiet coffee after her win in the NSW state elections. Sophie Moeller

New Lismore MP brings wealth of experience to the job

IT HAS been many Saturdays since Janelle Saffin has been able to have a quiet (late) breakfast, with time to take stock.

Having won a successful campaign to become Lismore's new member of the NSW parliament, she was able to reflect and let the reality of her new role sink in. She had her first quiet and relaxed meal and read of the papers in ages.

When it was suggested that she was, indeed, testament to the adage of never giving up, Ms Saffin responded by saying one of her barrister friends, who was an advisor to the Northern Territory parliament, had told her: "it was great (win and message) for older women”.

As she sat eating her scrambled eggs at The Lismore Regional Gallery's Slate Cafe, this weekend, she acknowledged she was tired now "the adrenalin was subsiding”.

Not that her fatigue had anything to do with her age, she added.

"All of us on the campaign in those last weeks were running on adrenalin,” she said.

"Funny though,” she mused, "at how much her age seemed to be a factor in people's assumptions about her leadership,” she said.

She remembers one member of the public saying: "You're no spring chicken” and other disparaging references to her being a "career politician” while Austin Curtin's potential leadership would be "young and fresh”.

"People don't realise they are being, not only ageist, but sexist.

"It's in the back of their minds, it is out there.

"I am younger than Thomas George was in his final term, and the same age as Malcolm Turnbull, and there are men older in the NSW Parliament, but no one ever questioned their eligibility to lead,” she said.

Ms Saffin says her strength lies in her long experience and, judging from the vote, there are many in the electorate who respect her judgment.

Ms Saffin has been active in The Australian Labor Party since 1984 developing public policy as a community activist. She first put her hand up for political office in 1991. She served from 1995-2003 in the NSW Legislative Council and from 2007-2013, she was the Federal member for Page.

"One of the great things about my age is, I have nothing to prove to myself. I can get on with representing the people of this region, and have hit the ground running.”

Ms Saffin says she looks forward to working with Gladys Berejiklian and John Barilaro, to make sure the Lismore Electorate gets the what it has been promised.

"I have written a letter of congratulations to the Premier, 'the woman with the long name' for her historic win, that I respect her for.”