Sunday, 12 October 2014

A member of our state parliament died

yesterday. He had won his seat again but requested leave - which was granted - because he had a brain tumour. It was, he assured everyone, something that could be treated. He expected to recover and resume his parliamentary duties. He did not.
Perhaps he genuinely expected to do so but I doubt it. He had a medical background and must have been more aware of the likely prognosis than most people.
I knew the man. I did not know him well but he was a frequent traveller on the same train and we would sometimes have a chat. Someone else had once pointed me out to him as "the person who writes the letters to the paper".
He spoke to me first just by saying, "My name's ..... and I liked the letter you had in the paper yesterday. Thanks for writing it."
I have no idea now what the letter was about but I was pleasantly surprised that he did not expect to be recognised. He did not say he was an MP or talk about politics.
We never talked directly about politics. He would sometimes raise a policy issue with me. I soon found out that he genuinely wanted to know what I thought. It was not idle chatter. He would sometimes scribble a note down. He quoted me on a couple of occasions - accurately.
He was once a member of a major political party. They parted company and he went to his electorate as an "independent". People were, rightly, cynical. Is any politician truly independent?
He tried to be. On more than one occasion he actively tried to discover which way his electorate wanted him to vote on an issue.
It was hard work. He worked long hours in parliament and in his electorate. He gave a great deal of quiet help to a very, very young member of the Upper House who was catapulted into parliament when the first person on the ticket for the disability oriented party died unexpectedly.
He was perhaps more realistic than many politicians. He knew the limitations of government and his own as an independent member of it.
We did not always agree but I grew to respect him. I think he genuinely believed he was there to represent the people in his electorate. Replacing him will not be easy.

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