Chris was educated at Smithfield Public School and St Johns Park High School. He graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Economics and won the Australian Transport Officers Federation Prize for the best industrial relations student at the University.
He joined the Labor Party in 1988 and has held many honorary positions in the party.
He was elected to Fairfield Council in 1995 was elected Mayor of Fairfield for 1998 and 1999. Chris became President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils from 2000 to 2002.
Immediately before being elected to Parliament, Chris was Chief of Staff to Hon. Carl Scully, NSW Minister for Roads, Housing and Leader of the House.
In December 2006, Chris was appointed to the Federal Labor Party's frontbench as the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Revenue & Competition Policy.
Following the historic election of the Labor Government in 2007, Chris was appointed to the new Ministry. Chris took on two portfolios as Assistant Treasurer, and Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs.
Chris has been a Cabinet Minister in a range of portfolios including Human Services, Immigration and Citizenship, Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Small Business. Chris has also served as Treasurer to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Following the 2013 election, he served as Interim Labor Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition while the Labor leadership ballot was underway. He was later appointed Shadow Treasurer by Bill Shorten.
Chris lives in the local community with his wife and children. He's a keen supporter of the GWS Giants in the AFL.