Joel is the Federal Member for Hunter. He was born in Bellingen, NSW, in 1962. Joel attended Maitland Marist Brothers and St Patrick’s Primary, Cessnock. In addition to his trade qualifications he holds a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration from the University of Newcastle.
After leaving high school Joel trained as an auto-electrician and ran his own business for more than ten years. Between 1987 and 1995 he served on Cessnock City Council and was Deputy Mayor of the City between 1989 and 1990.
Joel was first elected to the House of Representatives in March of 1996 to represent the Hunter electorate in New South Wales. He served as Minister for Defence in the Labor Government between December 2007 and June 2009. He also served as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry between July 2013 and September 2013.
A former player himself, Joel's favourite sport is Rugby League and he is the Patron of both the Newcastle Knights and his former club, Cessnock Goannas.
Joel lives in Cessnock in the Hunter Valley with his wife Dianne, who was elected a Cessnock City Councillor in 2016. They have three adult children.