Student of life Jason Modica ready for the big stage

Independent candidate for the federal seat of Mallee Jason Modica says he has always been interested in what makes people tick. Pictures: Louise Barker

Independent candidate for the federal seat of Mallee Jason Modica says he has always been interested in what makes people tick. Pictures: Louise Barker

JASON Modica failed Year 11 at school.

It’s not something he seems particularly proud of, but he doesn’t shy away from it either. Much like the politician he has become, he speaks of it matter-of-factly.

“I was probably a capable student who didn’t apply himself because I grew up on a block and I was happier driving tractors and throwing zucchinis at my brother,” he said.

“I had a lot of close friends who were four or five years younger than me who did really well in the VCE – really close to the top score.

“They showed me you can have all the charisma, and talk to as many people as you want, but if your content is a little bit off ... it encouraged me to start reading myself.

“I started reading things like Papillon or Roots or Wake In Fright and that just rolled on to all sorts of literature.

“When you start reading and then travelling on top of that ... it led me to see the world differently.”

Sitting at the kitchen table of the Nichols Point home he shares with his partner, Danielle Hobbs, children Luka, 13, and Scarlette, 11, Mr Modica speaks glowingly of his upbringing on a farming property in Gol Gol with parents Arthur and Margaret, and siblings Lisa, Mario and Emma.

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As a kid, he remembers “the door was always open” to the family house where Arthur – a “convivial raconteur” according to Mr Modica – would often have friends around and conversations would range from footy to life and, on occasions, politics.

“We were brought up on dad’s hip,” he said.

“My brother and I knew how to work before we knew we could work, if that makes sense.

“Dad’s family, and mum’s to a certain extent, too, were always happy to have a debate about what was going on in politics in the day.

“One thing I found out much later in life is the things your parents give you, you don’t really know until you’re a little bit older.”

Mr Modica said from a young age he was always interested in getting to know people and what “made them tick”.

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