Melissa was first elected to Parliament as the Member for Durack, the largest electorate in Australia covering more than 1.6 million square kilometres, in 2013. Born and raised in the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie, she relished the opportunity to represent the diverse interests of a rural electorate. Following the 2016 federal election, she was appointed to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in September 2016.
Melissa’s engagement in progressing defence outcomes continued through her work on the Coalition Defence Policy Committee and the Defence Sub-Committee. In December 2017, she was elevated to the role of Assistant Minister for the Environment and continued in this role until August 2018, when she was sworn in as Minister for the Environment in the Morrison Government. With the Coalition returned to government at the 2019 Federal election, Melissa was sworn in as Minister for Defence Industry in May 2019 and elevated to Cabinet on the 30 March 2021. Melissa was sworn in as the Minister for Science and Technology on 8 October 2021.
A lawyer by profession before beginning her career as a politician, Melissa has more than 20 years' experience in the private sector, working in a variety of commercial and legal roles. Maintaining her connection to rural Australia through stints in regionally focused industries, Melissa also spent time working with the not-for-profit sector. She is a former Director of both the Cancer Council (WA) and BrightSpark Foundation, and a passionate supporter of child health and cancer research. Melissa is also a proud 16-year member of the Fremantle Football Club.