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While working his way through university, Mike worked as a storeman and packer, a cleaner, and a labourer. Upon graduation from university and the College of Law, Mike worked at a law firm in Sydney fighting for the rights of injured workers, helping with campaigns for those suffering from asbestos related diseases.

Mike joined the Army in 1987 and has extensive military experience including a number of operational deployments, finishing his career at the rank of Colonel. He served in Somalia (for which he was awarded the Chief of the General Staff’s Commendation and made a Member of the Order of Australia); and was seconded to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Bosnia Herzegovina and Croatia. He deployed on a successful hostage recovery mission to Kenya; and was a member of the UN Peacekeeping Force in East Timor, where he was awarded the Force Commander’s Commendation. He also served with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq from 2003-2004. His last full posting with the Army was in Strategy Group where he was involved in the management of the 2006 crises in Timor Leste and Lebanon.

Mike has been a regular speaker at military training programs and conferences around the world and is a leading expert on peace and stabilisation operations, post conflict reconstruction and counter-insurgency. He has published two books along with numerous articles and chapters in books. His research led to the awarding of a PhD from the University of New South Wales in 1997.

Mike was first elected as the Member for Eden Monaro in November 2007. He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support in the Rudd Labor Government. On 25 February 2009, Mike was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Water in addition to his existing duties.

Following the 2010 election, Mike was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in the Gillard Labor Government on 14 September 2010.

On 14 December 2011 Mike was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.

On 4 February 2013 Mike was appointed Minister for Defence Materiel.