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A belief in education being the cornerstone of national growth and individual development underpinned by the principle of equal opportunity for all, led Mr O’Connor to commence his career in a union. He represented the interests of Victorian workers before becoming Assistant National Secretary of the Australian Services Union (ASU).
He was elected to parliament in 2001 and has since headed several portfolios.
As Minister for Employment Participation, he overhauled the employment services system, streamlining the process to provide a personalised service called Job Services Australia.
As Minister for Home Affairs, one of his many noteworthy achievements includes reforming Australia’s anti-dumping regime to encourage fairer and equitable business practices.
Mr O’Connor went on to serve as Minister for Small Business at Cabinet level, the first time in over ten years that the portfolio had been elevated to such a level. Mr O’Connor worked to cut red tape and support growth and jobs through tax reform, including the $6500 Instant Asset Write-off to assist Australia’s 2.7 million small businesses to improve their cash flows and the introduction of Australia’s first Small Business Commissioner.
In 2013, Mr O’Connor was elevated to Minister for Immigration and Citizenship and finished the term as Minister for Employment, Skills and Training.
Mr O’Connor has degrees in Arts and Law from Monash University and a Diploma in Industrial Relations from Harvard University.
He currently serves as Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations as a member of Bill Shorten’s Labor frontbench team.