Sharon was first elected in 2001 - the first woman to represent the federal seat of Newcastle - and was re-elected in 2004, 2007 and 2010.
Before entering Parliament, Sharon served as a teacher and Principal in the Hunter region. In her professional career she completed extensive management and financial training and studied Arts and Law. Sharon was also a board director of the Honeysuckle Development Corporation and a member of the management committee of the Tinonee Multicultural Village for Aged Care.
Understanding that Newcastle’s challenge is to build a sustainable and diverse economy, Sharon has advocated strongly to position the region as a centre for research and innovation – particularly in clean energy. She has overseen the establishment of the Australian Solar Institute and Clean Energy Innovation Centre headquarters in Newcastle and secured the first ever $100 million Smart Grid Smart City energy efficiency initiative to be rolled out in Newcastle. Sharon supported the investment of $40 million in the Hunter Medical Research Institute and $30 million to establish the Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources – part of a $1.5 billion total investment in Newcastle from the Federal Labor Government in its first term.
Sharon has identified that emerging “big picture” opportunities for Newcastle include the National Broadband Network, the implications of the High Speed Rail Study for improving the Newcastle-Sydney rail link and encouraging part of the revenue flow from mining back into this region.
Sharon has built positive relationships and networks to advance these opportunities and achievements, which she believes represents the way to a prosperous future for the people of Newcastle.