Who is LNP candidate Ron Harding?
RON Harding has been announced as the LNP candidate to take on Glenn Butcher and One Nation’s Kevin Jorgensen at the October 31 election, but who is he and what makes him tick?
Most who know Mr Harding would associate him with his successful Gladstone business CQ Tools, which he opened 25 years ago, after moving to the place he now loves with a passion.
But there is much more to this 58-year-old businessman than meets the eye.
Mentored by his father John, Mr Harding grew up in the Sydney seaside suburb of Manly and did his trade qualifications at the Royal Australian Navy’s Garden Island dockyard.
His early days were spent in Manly, learning to dive from his father, who launched Australia’s first certified diving school, helping underwater legends including Ben Cropp and Ron and Valerie Taylor.
Time outside school hours was spent working for his father, who owned the world’s biggest wetsuit manufacturing business at the time, and cleaning the glass underwater on the Manly Marineland, which sadly closed its doors in 2018, after opening in 1965.
“Growing up back then in Sydney was wonderful, nothing like it is today,” he said.
“My father had the world’s biggest wetsuit manufacturing company at the time, churning out more than 1400 wetsuits a week, many exported to the United States.
“He developed the world’s first custom surfing wetsuit, which he cleverly named the American Surfer suit, and sold tens of thousands of them to the Americans.”
After he left Sydney, Mr Harding travelled Australia as a sales manager and instructor for a massive tool company, making many connections and lifelong friends.
He married the love of his life Virginia in 1989, raising Sarah who is now 31.
Mr Harding said he didn’t decide to get into politics for himself, but for the city of Gladstone and its people.
Having Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd as a close friend for 25 years has helped mould his political passion and motivation.
“I have been in Gladstone for 25 years running my business, which I am very fortunate that it has been quite successful,” he said.
“I absolutely love Gladstone and I am so proud to call this town my home.
“Spending time with and talking to Kenny O’Dowd has shown me what this city needs and what I hope to achieve.
“I have spent years donating tools and sponsoring many community groups and organisations, I’ve lost count of how much I’ve donated, but I don’t do it for any recognition, I just love helping people, and especially kids, out.
“I am so passionate about this town I would go into politics for nothing, because for me it’s not what I can get out of it, it’s what I can get for this town and its wonderful people.
“I will fight for Gladstone and what it deserves until my very last dying breath, and I would do it for free, because I believe so much in the town and its people.”
Mr Harding will campaign on a platform of creating jobs, boosting local industry and manufacturing, supercharging the port, reducing crime and ensuring Gladstone get’s its fair share from the government coffers in Brisbane.