Born in Murtoa, Hugh began his career as a farmer on his family grain and sheep property.
He went on to work for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs after playing football for Essendon in the 1970s.
Hugh has participated in and coached many sports in the Wimmera and is a life member of the Murtoa Football Club.
He was a Councillor and Mayor for the former Horsham City Council (1987 – 1995, Mayor 1992/93), Chief Commissioner of Mildura Rural City (1995 to 1996), and the first Mayor and a Councillor of the new Horsham Rural City Council (1997 to 1999, Mayor – 1997).
Hugh was elected to State politics in 1999 where he represented the electorates of Wimmera from 1999 to 2002 and Lowan from 2002 to 2014. He served as Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Veteran Affairs from 2010 to 2014.