Anne was born in Latrobe, and raised in nearby Ulverstone and Gawler. She has been married to Graham for about four decades and they have two children and four grandchildren.

Anne began her working life in the late 1970’s at Simplot, a vegetable processing factory in Ulverstone. Her involvement with the Union movement began in 1979 when she joined the Food Preservers Union, which later became the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. One of the first battles Anne faced as a Union Official was gaining credibility amongst a predominantly male workforce who were not used to rallying behind a woman.

In 2004, Anne was elected to the position of State Secretary of the AMWU, the first female State Secretary in Australia and relocated to Hobart fill the position. After 28 years of representing workers in the fight for fairer pay and conditions, Anne was sworn into the Senate on 1 July 2011 where she continues her stand against discrimination and inequity.

In October 2013 Anne was appointed to the position of Deputy Opposition Whip in the Australian Senate and more recently as Chair of the Environment & Communications References Committee and Deputy Chair of the Environment & Communications Legislation Committee. She is also involved in other Senate Committees including the National Disability Insurance Scheme Committee.

Following the double dissolution election in July 2016, at the commencement of the 45th Parliament in August 2016 Anne was elected to Chief Opposition Whip in the Australian Senate.