New Aussie MP Reveals How She Narrowly Escaped 9/11
A brush with disaster "changed" a new federal politician, after she was due to stay in the World Trade Centre on the say of the 9/11 terror attack -- but was saved by a last-minute change.
New Liberal MP Melissa McIntosh won the seat of Lindsay at the May election, joining parliament. She formerly worked for Liberal MP Alex Hawke, a previous Lindsay MP in Jackie Kelly, and former prime minister John Howard.
McIntosh revealed her brush with disaster during her maiden speech in Parliament House on Monday.
She spoke at length about her fondness for the western Sydney electorate she now represents and her love for her family, but her first address to the House of Representatives darkened as she detailed a planned work trip to New York City when she was just 23.
Fresh from graduating Western Sydney University, she said she entered the corporate world.
"Like many young people and young women, I was rushing to get ahead and achieve it all before kids. I was also the girl from Penrith, wanting to be the best, to take all the opportunities," she said.
"But then, an experience changed things."
McIntosh spoke of a "wonderful opportunity" to visit NYC on a business trip, which was cancelled just days before she was set to depart. It was September 2001.
"I was disappointed. I was going to be staying at the famous twin towers. I would have been in one of those towers on September 11," she said.
Her voice quavered slightly, and her colleagues listened in rapt silence, as she recounted her own near-miss.
"I will never forget that day, sitting in an almost empty office in Sydney, about 20 storeys up, overlooking Hyde Park, wondering what would have happened if I had made it to New York," McIntosh continued.
"Rushing for a career wasn't so important after that."
The day McIntosh was meant to be in New York, al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked two passenger jets and flew them into the World Trade Centre's iconic towers. Two other planes were also hijacked by terrorists, with one slamming into the Pentagon while the fourth was crashed in a field after passengers fought back against the assailants.
Nearly 3000 people died in the attacks, including more than 2600 at the World Trade Centre.
She told of how she decided to go travelling with her partner, elite canoeist Stuart, who competed at World Cups and Olympic Games. McIntosh said the pair, and their new baby, visited 20 countries before he was one year old.
"Travelling with a baby was an amazing and, at times, wonderful experience, and overwhelming, but one that made me value, even more, our beautiful country, which truly is the best in the world," she said.
Federal MPs returned to Canberra on Monday for the first full sitting fortnight of the 46th parliament. Further maiden speeches from newly-elected members will occur over the coming weeks.