The Passage of Time

Politicians rely on the shortened news cycle to cover their tracks. The passage of time also allows us to put things in proper perspective.

The Passage of Time
Photo by Aron Visuals / Unsplash

It's amazing how the passage of time affects the recollection of events.

What was once considered traumatic can be of little or no consequence a short time later.

That is especially true of politics.

Firstly, those involved in political life benefit immensely from the notoriously short attention span of those who follow politics.

When I entered the Senate in 2006, a former Cabinet Minister gave me sage advice when she described 'today's headlines as next weeks fish and chip wrapper'.

In other words, what dominates the political news one day is largely forgotten a few days later.

I took those words to heart which is likely why I didn't lose too much sleep over the vicissitudes of political life. It's just as well because when I look back at some of the 'significant' events I realise just how insignificant they are.

A group of us were recently reflecting on some of the highs and lows of our political careers when I brought up my sacking from some low level position in the then Malcolm Turnbull led opposition.

It happened shortly after I started writing the Weekly Dose of Common Sense column back in 2008.

Turnbull wanted me to apologise or resign because of this blog post.

I refused, insisting there was no-one I needed to apologise to and I wouldn't stand aside for telling a true story that influenced my decision to enter politics.

Turnbull sacked me later that afternoon. When the official letter of termination came through by fax I called his office to request the original letter to be sent.

They asked why? I told them:

"In the future being sacked by Turnbull would be like being sacked by John Hewson in the early 90s and would be considered it a badge of honour. Accordingly, I wanted to frame the letter and display it in my office."

At that the phone went dead as the Deputy Chief of Staff hung up.

The letter never arrived.

While I was nonplussed by it all, I do recall the attention the scandal generated.

Previously friendly colleagues became very frosty. A bunch of loser MPs in the South Australian Liberal Party wanted me to be kicked out and the journalists had a great time at my expense.

Many outside the political world also changed their disposition toward me. It was a great means of filtering one's true friends!

Of course this wasn't the only time these things would happen but it's incredible to think of the eruption over this particularly trivial matter.

Upon reflection, I am sure the commotion was because I was a staunch conservative in the Party and always doing battle against the pathetic wets within.

It didn't help that I was also spearheading a rational discussion about the global warming hysteria, which I kicked off back in 2007.

In any event, my early experiences shaped how I would go about the business of politics. It was when I formally resiled to always speak truth to power and do what I thought was right.

That approach didn't pave the way for what many regard as political success but I look back at the near 14 years in the Senate without a single regret.

I dare say not many former politicians can say that and genuinely mean it.

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