OFF TO A GOOD START: Chay Conaglen's Ford Fiesta broke down before he could move to Gladstone.
OFF TO A GOOD START: Chay Conaglen's Ford Fiesta broke down before he could move to Gladstone. Contributed

CQ's wannabe pollie breaks down his future

A SMOKING bonnet couldn't stop Chay Conaglen chatting about politics as history repeated itself for the young-gun Rockhampton politician.

The 20-year-old pulled his infamous 2006 Ford Fiesta over, idling as he spoke to The Morning Bulletin today about his future, and brushed off his malfunctioning sedan to reflect on his last year.

Going off the grid over the Christmas break, Chay took some time off to go camping on a friend's property near Byfield after a whirlwind year jumping into the world of politics.

The controversial campaigner ran for the seat of Gladstone in the 2017 state election, but fell short of Labor's Glenn Butcher in a landslide of more than 15,000 votes.

 

FIGHTING TO THE END: Chay Conaglen with an LNP volunteer at Gladstone Central State School.
FIGHTING TO THE END: Chay Conaglen with an LNP volunteer at Gladstone Central State School. Chris Lees

His campaign raised many political eyebrows with his outspoken opinions and odd tactics, but Chay undoubtedly left his mark on the competitive world.

Raised with his two younger siblings by his mum, Chay said some of his best memories were the smallest.

"Mum would take us on an adventure to the backyard, lay an old sheet down and we would have a picnic with noodle and fairy bread," he said.

"It's funny how sometimes it's the little things that we remember as kids."

As he grew up, Chay said his biggest influence in life was his faith and credited that to "completely changing me".

"It's not really some famous politician or celebrity who has influenced me the most, but the person Jesus Christ," he said.

Chay's dabble in politics stemmed from his days at Rockhampton State High School where the vice-captain was persuaded to enter a competition run by state parliament.

 

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, My First Speech competition winner Chay Conaglen and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Photo contributed.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, My First Speech competition winner Chay Conaglen and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo contributed. Photo contributed ROK151214speec

"It all started in high school, I had an English teacher inform me about the competition where I had to pretend to be a member of parliament and do my first speech," he said.

Whipping up a speech in "four minutes", Chay went on to win the competition and was flown to Canberra to meet the nation's top pollies.

"I met Tony Abbott who was Prime Minister at the time and it got me really interested in politics," he said.

 

Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, My First Speech competition winner Chay Conaglen and Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Photo contributed.
Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, My First Speech competition winner Chay Conaglen and Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo contributed. Photo contributed ROK151214speec

Chay then joined the young LNPs saying their values aligned and he started volunteering.

Amongst dipping his toes in the political pool, Chay jumped straight into a double law and accounting degree at CQUniversity in 2015

"Some years I was doing three terms a year which enabled me to spread my workload out," he said.

"I hadn't taken a break from uni for two years."

Chay then put his degree on hold, packed his car and moved to Gladstone in his journey to represent the community in the state election.

But the fired-up uni student got off to a bumpy start.

 

BUMPY START: Rockhampton's Chay Conaglen took on the battle for the seat of Gladstone. Chay's car broke down after he picked up some equipment to make election placards at Officeworks.
BUMPY START: Rockhampton's Chay Conaglen took on the battle for the seat of Gladstone. Chay's car broke down after he picked up some equipment to make election placards at Officeworks. Adam Wratten

After a broken down car, whacky media stunts and controversial opinions, Chay's enthusiasm never faltered.

A particular "bizarre" stunt stunned his audiences and was a hive for media attention when he brought a lump of coal to his lunch table, posting a photo online with the hashtag 'the future'.

Despite the backlash received for his opinions of power and also abortion, Chay said it was important he speak up about the values he felt passionately for.

 

IN LINE: Chay Conaglen is expected to be named as the LNP's candidate for Gladstone.
IN LINE: Chay Conaglen is expected to be named as the LNP's candidate for Gladstone. Facebook

"I just kept speaking the truth, when you believe in what you were saying you just cop whatever," he said.

Chay admitted although the experience was rewarding, it didn't come without stress.

"I had mixed emotions through the campaign," he said.

"My favourite part was being able to speak about issues I felt were important and also meeting lots of great people and seeing all the support."

 

LNP candidate for Gladstone, Chay Conaglen with senator Matt Canavan at the Gladstone Power Station.
LNP candidate for Gladstone, Chay Conaglen with senator Matt Canavan at the Gladstone Power Station. Matt Harris

Although the vote count was largely against him, Chay said he was happy with the result.

"I was disappointed but objectively I had no chance of winning," he said.

"The result was better than the 2012 election so I'm happy with that."

Now working part-time for mentor Matt Canavan, he is looking forward to the future after finishing his degree.

"Ideally I'd love to stay local and practice law," he said.

Facing the fact he may also need a new car, Chay was also planning on upgrading to something more reliable for his future.



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