Born on Australia Day, 1962, Jeff was initially fostered, then adopted by his maternal aunt and uncle, long-time Drouin residents Laurie and Jean Waddell.
Jeff has a long, rich family history with the Drouin area. Laurie was an Orchardist, having purchased the orchard on Waddell Rd, Drouin from his father. Laurie was also a very well-known and well-travelled lawn bowler throughout Gippsland and beyond. Jean emigrated from Scotland with her family in the 1920’s, initially settling in Zeerust, just outside Shepparton, where her aunt, uncle and cousins had a dairy farm. Her family moved to Drouin in the 1930’s.
Jeff went to school at both Drouin Primary School and Drouin Secondary College.
“My childhood and youth were spent between the orchard and the dairy farm – picking fruit and milking cows. From age 6, I was expected to work after school picking apples at the orchard during the autumn. There was no pay – not even pocket money. That’s how it was.”
Jeff believes strongly in preserving our Australian culture and bitterly opposes those who seek to denigrate Australia Day and other Australian cultural traditions.
Jeff also knows what it’s like to grow up in the household of a primary producer struggling to make ends meet.
“For nine of its last ten years, the orchard was hit by hail. In the days before hail net was available, that wiped out the value of the crop. The only time dad made money from the orchard was when it was sold for subdivision.”
Jeff has been married to Sylvia for 26 years and they have 3 children – Alisha (25); Dean (22) & Liam (13). The Best Man at their wedding did his electrical apprenticeship at the SEC. Jeff’s youngest son is autistic so Jeff understands families who have to deal with this very challenging condition every day.
Most of Jeff’s working life has been in the automotive and ICT industries, moving from one to the other during his 17 years with Repco between 1983 and 2000 in what he describes as a very unique career progression. Jeff received an ITIL Intermediate Certificate for IT Service Management in 2013.
The same year, Jeff and Sylvia, along with Sylvia’s brother, sister and their partners, bought a block of land in Longwarry; built and opened De Bruins Bakery in 2014. Though no longer a partner in the business, Jeff’s appreciation of good food and interacting with customers means he can be found there almost every Saturday.
Jeff remained in IT until 2018 when his then employer commenced off-shoring and outsourcing its IT department and Jeff was made redundant. Jeff describes the process of training up a foreign national in how to do the role in which he was the Subject Matter Expert as “demeaning”.
It was rumours of the outsourcing in 2017 that first turned Jeff’s head in One Nation’s direction. Jeff is disgusted that the major parties are not fighting to keep jobs in Australia for Australians. The closure of Hazelwood was a disaster and every Victorian family is paying the price with increased energy bills. Jeff believes the agricultural and small business sectors should be the engine-room of our economy. Instead they’re taken for granted and neglected.
“Australia and Australians deserve better. The political establishment – the political class, if you like – point fingers at each other and do nothing for the people. Gang violence is rampant and the political class won’t even acknowledge gangs exist. Taxes, increased energy costs and red tape destroy innovation and the old Australian way of ‘having a go’. The major parties don’t seem to look beyond the next election.”
Jeff is hoping to have the support of the people of Monash to fight for their voice in Parliament.