FAMILY FIRST: Deb Frecklington with her daughters, Isabella, Elke and Lucy at the Roma Street Parklands. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
FAMILY FIRST: Deb Frecklington with her daughters, Isabella, Elke and Lucy at the Roma Street Parklands. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

‘It’s okay to fail’: Nanango MP on her road to success

DEB Frecklington is no stranger to the spotlight.

Two years ago she rose through the ranks to earn her spot as leader of the Liberal Party in Queensland.

As the Member for Nanango, Deb's schedule consists of attending events, speaking at press conferences and making tough decisions on a local and state level.

Yet, when the cameras have been put away and the microphones are turned off, what is important to the LNP state leader?

Ahead of International Women's Day, the South Burnett Times spoke with Deb about her upbringing in the country, motherhood, inspirational women in her life and how she has navigated a career in a "man's world".

From small beginnings at her family's beef cattle farm near Guluguba, Deb said her childhood built the foundations for her strong work ethic.

"My parents were really hard workers and expected my siblings and I to do the same," Deb said.

"We didn't have a great deal of holidays and we worked really hard on the property.

"But as a school student I wasn't overly studious," she said.

"I loved the social part of school a little bit too much.

"I did night school and worked for a couple of years before I went to uni and was a local lawyer here (in Kingaroy).

"Now I have the opportunity to talk, particularly to girls in country Queensland," she said.

"I say to them you can do whatever you choose to do, even if it takes you a bit longer to get there, that's okay.

"It's taken me a while but I'm really proud of my story."

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington with 2019 Youth Member for Nanango, Natalia Hutchison during their 'sitting' week in state parliament.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington with 2019 Youth Member for Nanango, Natalia Hutchison during their 'sitting' week in state parliament.

With her husband Jason, the couple have raised three daughters, Isabella, Elke and Lucy in the South Burnett.

She said they chose to bring up their daughters in Kingaroy because of the work/life balance available in a regional town.

"There's only so much time in the day," she said.

"As a working mum, I made a real effort to pick the girls up from school but there's always things like mother's guilt.

"When I got into politics, we made it a family affair and they used to come along to events with us.

"They are much more discerning now but still really supportive of me," she said.

"I am really proud of all my girls.

"I won't individualise them because I will get into trouble.

"They have different personalities but all have an independent streak and hard work ethic.

"I was brought up on good honest country values, so I am pleased to see those same qualities in my daughters."

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington values quality time with her husband Jason and their daughters, Isabella, Lucy and Elke. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington values quality time with her husband Jason and their daughters, Isabella, Lucy and Elke. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

With a demanding schedule, Deb said one of her biggest female supporter's has been her sister, Jackie Allery.

"My sister Jackie is fabulous," she said.

"Her and her husband, John, have three boys who are the same ages as my girls.

"She has been a wonderful support for me, particularly when girls were at school here in Kingaroy.

"It would have been difficult for us to lead the life that we lead without her, especially since becoming leader in the last two years."

With the state government election looming in October, Deb said it would be the first time in Queensland that both of the major parties have been led by women.

However, throughout her career she said she never let gender deter her.

"Sure, there's challenges as a female," Deb said.

"I have been in both the legal profession and now politics.

"When I came to Kingaroy I was the only female in the Kingaroy Law Society.

"I've always been in a man's world and no matter how we like to look at it, politics is a man's world.

"But I've been very fortunate to not ever let it define me or stop me."

Mayoral Prayer Breakfast with Chelsea Malouf, Hayley James, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and Mia Kennedy. Picture: Shane Zahner
Mayoral Prayer Breakfast with Chelsea Malouf, Hayley James, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and Mia Kennedy. Picture: Shane Zahner

Before she was elected as LNP leader, the night before election day she said she received some advice that she still carries with her today.

"A friend sent me a quote via text in the middle of the night," she said.

"It was the old Winston Churchhill quote that said, 'Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it's the courage to carry on that counts'.

"For me it basically meant it doesn't matter if you do fail, if you don't get that dream job straight away, or the school you wanted, it's the courage to keep on going.

"If I wasn't voted in as leader, that would have been learning experience.

"The world won't come to an end."

As Deb prepares for the biggest year of her political career so far, she said her favourite thing to do was maintain her family traditions.

"Ideally on a Sunday morning, I would be at home with my family, still in my pyjamas and watching TV.

"I would have a coffee in hand and then prepare for a huge family barbecue.

"For years we have had a tradition of Sunday lunch with the girls and Jason.

"My favourite recipe to make is my homemade koftas with all the different salads I make.

"I do get out of my pyjamas for lunch though."

Read more inspiring stories as part of our South Burnett International Women's Day feature here.