From driving Army trucks to cooking buffalo while on safari in Africa, it sometimes feels like Perin Davey has done it all.

But there’s a lifelong calling that has led the friendly yet determined country woman to become the NSW Nationals’ lead Senate Candidate.

“I grew up in Canberra, but I chose to make my home in the regions,” Ms Davey says as she stands outside her Billabong Creek home — between the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers in the key irrigation areas of the Murray-Darling Basin.

“I love it out here and I want to protect what we’ve got.”

Unlike some of the big-city politicians, Perin spent most of her life working for a living; she ran her own hospitality company on the safari trail in Botswana, trained as a journalist and served Australia as an Army reservist.

Eventually, a desire to work for the common good and a background in media led Perin into political advisory roles and later, work with irrigation groups.

“I got a job at Murray Irrigation as a water policy officer two days after the Murray Darling Basin Plan was released,” Ms Davey said.

“Really, this should be about common sense, but it’s easy to get lost in jargon and numbers. One of my biggest passions is the right to farm and I’ve been appalled by how minority groups try to influence from a distance what can and can’t be done on a person’s soil. The irrigators I know are some of the best environmentalists in the land.”

It would be easy to stereotype Perin Davey as a tough, no-nonsense country woman, but her years with The Nationals have taught her a basic principle that so many seem to have forgotten: Respect.

“Our Party has a broad and diverse range of concerns and opinions, and that’s a good thing,” she said.

“We put the regional lens over policy in Government and ask if there’s common sense in the decision; you know a ring road in Sydney might be good for country people too if it improves their access to ports or freight. I want see politics go back to what I viewed it as when I grew up; you can disagree on issues but never make it personal, I think it’s become too personal and I want to bring that respect back.”