This week our WoCo Spotlight features Coffs Harbour champion Barb Davis. A local member contacted WoCo to tell us about Barb and the immense effort and time she commits to The Nats, estimating she had spent over 500 hours volunteering on the recent Cowper campaign alone.
While it was clear Barb isn’t comfortable being the centre of attention or talking about herself and her achievements, a quick google search will tell you she is listed as one of the ten most influential women in rugby league, and is a force to be reckoned with.
I found she is one of those rare people that make you feel completely at ease. After an hour or so on the phone, I felt like I had known Barb for years.
Where is home for you?
Coffs Harbour, but I am originally from Charlestown, Lake Macquarie.
What do you do away from the Nats?
Nowadays a lot of my time is spent with family. My husband Charlie and I have been married for 61 years, and I have been able to coerce him into supporting my many endeavours in that time. I am also sitting on the Community Consultative Committee for the Coffs Harbour Bypass Project.
Previously, I was in shopping centre management for 30 years. It was challenging balancing owners, retailers and customers but I loved the pace and getting to work with lots of different people. While doing this job I was awarded a BOMA Excellence in Marketing award.
I was honoured to be a part of the Olympic Torch Relay for the Sydney 2000 Olympics Games for my contribution to sport. I was the first woman to be elected to the board of the Newcastle Knights, and was Chairperson of ‘Aussies for the ARL’.
Why and how did you first get involved with the Nats?
I was involved with helping the Libs when I lived in Lake Macquarie as there were no local Nats branches. After moving to Coffs Harbour, a friend Liz was a member of The Nats and gave me a membership form. I was missing the involvement with politics and so I joined and never regretted it. Country people really care about each other. Now I carry a handful of Nats membership forms with me wherever I go!
What current and past positions have you held in the Nats?
I have been Secretary, and am now Membership Development Officer which I love.
I love campaigning and usually help put together rosters for prepoll and polling day, as well as all the booth kits for distribution. For the recent federal election campaign for Cowper I spent 5 weeks in the campaign office, 9am-5pm, 7 days a week, then 2 weeks on prepoll, then polling day. We counted about 560 hours total I spent on the campaign.
I also travelled down to help out for a week in Dungog for Dave Layzell during the Upper Hunter byelection, and a few days prepoll in Queanbeyan and then polling day at Bombala for Nichole Overall during the Monaro byelection.
What’s your best Nats event/memory.
The recent dinner for Gurmesh Singh in Coffs Harbour with NSW Nationals Cabinet Ministers was my favourite Nats event so far. They were all such characters on the night, bouncing off each other, and you really got the feeling that they were the real deal. It was a special night. I’m glad I was a member so I had the opportunity to be part of it.
If you could make one change tomorrow, in the Party or Parliament, what would it be?
Not rush into committing to net zero emissions by 2050. I have lived through droughts, floods and bushfires my whole life and it feels circular; like the poem I had to learn at school, “My Country” by Dorothea Mackellar. I am concerned that we are really scaring our kids about climate change and not giving them hope for their future, so I would make sure this isn’t a focus of the education curriculum.
What is your super talent?
My people skills. I can relate to people, and make them feel comfortable.