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Dan Repacholi @ The Coalface

Dan Repacholi grew up in the outskirts of Melbourne going to the local shooting range with his father and brothers. He’s worked in the Hunter Valley’s mining industry, competed at four Commonwealth Games and five Olympics and is now the Federal Member for Hunter.

Dan’s parents were both shooters. His dad worked as a quarantine officer and his mum worked nightshift as a nurse so when Dan’s mum was working at night, his dad would take him and his brothers to the Melton Pistol Club.

That’s where Dan fell in love with shooting.

He shoots with an air pistol and with it has won three gold and three bronze medals at Commonwealth Games and has been to five Olympic Games including Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, and Tokyo 2020.

“I have shot since I was 12 years old. I remember I just missed out on the 2000 Olympics, but I am glad I didn’t make it. I was too young and immature, not that much has changed there!”

Dan Repacholi @ The Coalface

Dan started working in the mining industry in 2009 as a line borer working for Tefol and Double R before landing a full-time job at Mount Thorley Warkworth.

He worked as an operator, a trainer, a dispatch officer and was a union delegate during his seven years there.

“It was a cruisy gig honestly. The hardest decision during a 12 ½ hour shift was whether to set the aircon on 1, 2 or 3!

“I enjoyed working with the crews I was with, we all got along really well.”

At the end of 2017, Dan was headhunted by Rusty Russell, the owner of Double R, to manage their new engineering headquarters in Singleton.

“I built up the team from 11 people to 78.

“We branched out to cover not only mining, but agriculture and civil work and eventually we outgrew the shop in Singleton. Then we moved to Rutherford and that’s where Double R still is to this day.

“I had some amazing times both professionally and personally whilst I was working there, and I still feel it is by far the best team I’ve ever been part of.”

It was when Dan came home from the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo that he was asked to be the Labor candidate for the Hunter electorate.

Dan Repacholi @ The Coalface

By May 2022, the 6.3ft shooter was the Federal MP for Hunter.

“Understanding what miners go through every day, doing 12-hour shifts, working days and nights, has really helped me as the Hunter MP. Understanding the industry makes this job so much easier.

“I often come across people who say ‘you’re not for coal and you’re not for us’ but I have worked in the industry, my mates work in this industry. I’m heavily invested in coal in this area.

“We must make sure we have good, safe, secure employment in the Hunter. But we also must make sure that when the industry does change in 20, 30 or 100 years’ time, we have other industries here for people to go into.

“That’s what I’m focusing on – I want to make sure our traditional coal industry is strong and vibrant, and people understand that if it’s not coal from the Hunter being used, it will be coal from somewhere else, and that will create even more emissions.”

Dan said he believes the electorate trusts him, particularly when it comes to fighting for their jobs.

“We fought incredibly hard for the workers at the Centennial collieries at Lake Macquarie last month. We all did an amazing job to get the outcome we did.

“Now for those 1000 workers we need to make sure they’re not fighting for a 6 month contract every six months. They need to make sure that between Centennial and Origin they get their sh*t together and have it all sorted so the workers don’t come into play and 1000 people don’t lose their jobs.”

Fighting for workers’ jobs is just one of the parts of Dan’s job that keeps him busy 24/7.

Dan Repacholi @ The Coalface

“Being an MP and an Olympic shooter isn’t easy. If it was easy everyone would do it.

“I have retired a few times and had more comebacks than Johhny Farnham, but it’s like a drug. I’m addicted to it.

“Winning is a feeling like nothing else. If anyone says they do sport at a high level because they love it, they’re lying. When you do sport at the highest level you do it because you love what winning gives you.

“I’m still young in shooting, I’m 42. I have competed against people in their 60s so it does have a good longevity.

“With this job finding the time can be so hard, but you’re only as good as your team and I have a great one. You never know what’s going to happen while you’re away, but my team did everything.”

Dan attempted to qualify for the Paris Olympics this year but fell an agonising one point short during the official qualifying and didn’t shoot well enough at the last chance in Munich to qualify in June.

As for whether he’ll give the Olympics another crack, Dan said he’ll have to wait and see. 

“We will wait to see what the Commonwealth Games decision is whether there will be one and what sports will be involved.”

For now, Dan’s sole focus is the Hunter electorate and every coal miner across the country.

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