Neale was born in Melbourne at the Queen Victoria Hospital and raised in Tocumwal where his parents, Ron and Audrey owned and ran the Tocumwal Hotel (the one with the two big palm trees). Neale was youngest of 8 children; with six sisters and a brother; not many of the hand me down clothes that he received could be worn in public! It is from his experiences growing up in a small town and as part of a big family, that Neale formed his family values and learned the importance of community. Neale was educated at the Tocumwal Primary School and Finley High School. He played football, cricket and tennis for Tocumwal, was a scout and spent many hours fishing on the Murray River.
Joining the workforce
Neale’s first jobs were also in Tocumwal. He was the town postman by day and a telephone exchange officer at night. Within this role, Neale was also responsible for the coordination of essential emergency services in times of crisis. These experiences demonstrated to him, the beauty of being part of a community that relies on each other when needed. While in his 20’s, Neale worked for 6 years for the company that is currently the second largest employer in the Hastings Electorate; Ingham’s Enterprises. Neale also had a keen interest in and learned boxing, being fortunate enough to train at Jack Rennie’s Gym in Essendon.
In 1994, Neale completed a Bachelor of Laws (with Honours) at Queensland University of Technology and was admitted as a Barrister. Neale worked for a number of years as a criminal law barrister.
Prior to entering politics, Neale also ran a consulting firm which specialised in a number of areas of technology; this combined with his time at Ingham’s this experience gave him a key insight into the challenges facing small business and the things governments can do to encourage business to grow, employ and invest.
Representing his community
Neale first stood for election in Hastings in 2002, falling just 582 votes short during the Brackslide. Instead of giving up, he continued to work to help people in his community and in 2006 he was elected as the Member for Hastings.