My class members and I were able to listen to our local Labor MP, David Bradbury, talk about the Budget as well as hear the Liberal senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, and her perspective on the Budget. We watched the 'Question Time' and our economics teacher was lucky enough to secure tickets to see Tony Abbott's 'Budget Reply' speech that night.
Before the speech started, our teacher had met with Liberal MP Pat Farmer whom he knew before he started teaching and promised to meet up with us once the speech had ended. After the Reply Speech had finished, we waited in the main foyer when Pat Farmer came and showed us into his office. There he spoke to us about his career in politics and before entering Parliament as an ultra-marathon runner.
Our teacher knew (the then) Liberal MP, Pat Farmer (who has since retired), and we had the chance to talk to him after the Reply Speech. Mr Farmer spoke to us not only about his recent career in politics, but also about his passion for ultra-marathon running that he had only started in his 40s.
He explained to us that he is no stranger to running over long distances, because he has run around Australia as part of the Centenary of Federation celebrations as well as undertaking a few Coast to Coast runs across the U.S.A. During ultra-marathons such as these (and others), he has raised over $3 million for various charities and organisations such as Careflight International, Diabetes Australia and the Cancer Council.
Mr Farmer then took us on a 'Grand Tour of Parliament House' – we visited both the Upper and Lower Houses, the offices of leading politicians including the Prime Minister, the library, the escape tunnels under the House in case of an emergency, the various artwork on the walls, the Great Hall and the MP's gymnasium with a small swimming pool (I never knew that was in Parliament House!).
But perhaps the most important room Pat showed us was the 'Prayer Room'.
This room is the only room that is not in symmetry with the rest of Parliament House and in this room Pat told us about what it means to be a Christian in Politics, even when our current Prime Minister has openly spoken about being an Atheist.
He spoke of the Bible verse Ephesians 2:8 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" and that how it is important to have constant faith in all that your do and spread the word of God to others.
Since his recent retirement, Pat Farmer has taken the challenge to run from the North Pole to the South Pole - a distance of 21,000km. He is hoping to raise over $A100 million for the International Red Cross to provide fresh water and clean sanitary conditions for many developing countries.
He started his monumental run on April 9th at the North Pole and he is continuing through the fourteen countries down the Northern and Southern American Continent.
Pat Farmer is now well and truly on his Pole-to-Pole run, and as you read this he is currently running through North Carolina. We wish him the best of luck and for God to guide him on his journey for a great cause. To find out more information or to donate visit poletopolerun.com
That "economics class" visit to Parliament House in 2010 in my HSC year gave me many things to seriously ponder, illustrated by Pat Farmer who saw beyond his immediate political arena.
Christopher Archibald lives in Sydney and is an under-graduate student.