Mike Crook says he became radicalised by seeing the way construction and mining companies treated their workforce, especially in regard to on-the-job safety.
He was working in the NSW Hunter Valley and Mudgee areas in coal mine construction in 1988, and was soon campaigning against the introduction of 12-hour rotating shifts into the coalmines. He continued this focus when he moved to Queensland in 1989 and joined the ALP.
In Brisbane, Crook worked in the Department of Social Security as a field officer. He told Green Left Weekly that it gave him an appreciation of life in "struggle street".
Later as a member of South Burnett branch of the ALP he ran for the seat of Barambah (the electorate of Jo Bjelke Petersen — Queensland's notorious National Party premier), but was buried in the One Nation landslide of 1998. Crook was the first candidate to doorknock the Aboriginal settlement of Cherbourg.
Campaigning against One Nation, and now running an antique and coffee shop in rural Kilcoy, in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Crook would display signs on his window like "One Nation members and other racists not welcome here".
"This activity was not really welcomed in Kilcoy", he said, "and one night someone backed a truck into the shop."
After moving to Brisbane suburb of Sandgate in 2001, he joined the Deagon ALP branch and ran unsuccessfully for preselection. During this time he campaigned for construction safety reform and reduced work shifts for paramedics.
In 2007, Crook was a member for the Longman Your Rights at Work campaign and retired from work three months before the federal election to help the campaign on an almost full-time basis.
"During the campaign", Crook says, "I joined the left faction of the ALP but was disappointed by its lack of activism. In time I was thrown out of the left for running for pre-selection against an elected member, an absolute no-no."
Following a trip to Venezuela in 2008, Crook joined the Democratic Socialist Perspective and the Socialist Alliance. He resigned from the ALP and is now the Socialist Alliance candidate for the state seat of Sandgate.
"My intention is to become a community activist", he says, "promulgating socialist principles and attempting to inform and educate members of the community to become more politically and socially aware, with a view to having them contribute to the social fabric of their community."