On Wednesday, Pru Goward was enjoying a rare free day, off, by train as it happened, to see the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and for a catch up with friends.
It was week one of not being the Member for Goulburn after almost 12 years in the role but still, there was plenty else to keep her busy.
There was also time for reflection on the recent poll, won by Ms Goward's preferred choice, former Boorowa Mayor Wendy Tuckerman over Labor candidate Dr Ursula Stephens. On Wednesday Mrs Tuckerman was polling 53.34pc of the vote to Dr Stephens' 46.66pc on a two-party preferred basis. The Libs claimed victory in the seat on Saturday night, despite its 6.6pc margin being dented to about 2.5pc.
"I knew it was going to be close but I thought the result would have been closer," Ms Goward said.
"What I hadn't understood was the size of the One Nation vote which took votes off us and Labor."
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and One Nation pulled a total 18pc away from the major parties. Ms Goward said when their votes exhausted, the Libs' margin was larger than she expected.
The now former MP said both Liberal and Labor would have to work hard to reconnect with people who supported One Nation and SFFP, telling them they cared about their issues.
"I think every election will be a really a series of by-elections (but) I believe we will get those seats back," Ms Goward said.
"...We will strengthen our hold on Goulburn by hard work and the community knowing we care and that we're part of it. People will roll their eyes at that. People would say to me I saw you on Facebook and there were only 30 people at a particular function. My view was always if that's what the community wants, I'll go if I can."
She described Mrs Tuckerman as a great candidate who was intelligent, wise, a good listener and connector of people, and who understood the importance of community involvement. As a former Australian Federal Police investigator she had set up the child sexual abuse squad and following that, had vast experience in local government.
Her pre-selection came after a difficult decision.
Ms Goward said she agonised for many months on whether to resign. She finally told the Premier last November that she could no longer balance her husband David's ill-health and parliamentary duties.
She said it was also difficult knowing that she would not receive a parliamentary pension but still having the financial responsibility of paying for her husband's care.
"I probably agonised for too long and should have made the decision earlier but I told the Premier that if I stood again, we could be having a by-election in 12 months," Ms Goward said.
The timing of the December announcement was at the Premier's choosing. But firstly she had sounded out Ms Goward's thoughts on a replacement.
The then MP put forward four names - two men and two women.
"The Premier was keen on a woman but we were clear it had to be someone with an impeccable reputation, who was known," Ms Goward said.
"I gave her the name of someone extremely well known but also made her aware there was some history they'd need to get to the bottom of so it wouldn't embarrass them.
"...The Premier was very clear we needed to be encouraging more women into parliament. Two people went before the nomination review panel where their histories were closely examined by the Liberal Party. I don't know what happened there but Wendy was successful."
Every time we got a win, whether for an individual or the region, it was sweet.Pru Goward
The announcement of Mrs Tuckerman's selection in January was just over two months out from the poll.
Ms Goward said the election was tough, given that Mrs Tuckerman wasn't well known in this part of the electorate. But she expected this to change in the next four years, and with projects coming to fruition, for the 2023 election to be easier for her.
Ms Goward fought a similarly tough campaign at her first election in 2007. Up against then Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Paul Stephenson, she claimed the seat by about 900 votes.
"I wasn't known and had to keep getting up and slogging away every day," she said.
"I was very lucky the Liberal Party believed in me and provided me with lots of people to help. It was definitely the toughest 900 votes."
The seat had just been redistributed and she did not have the benefit of strong connections with MPs Katrina Hodgkinson and Peta Seaton, who had represented parts of the electorate. In addition, the Coalition was in opposition and couldn't make grand promises.
But she said unlike the recent poll, the 2007 election was more issues based. Back then it was water, both in Goulburn and the Southern Highlands. The Coalition came to the party with money for a pipeline.
Ms Goward acknowledged she faced another tough contest in 2015, up against Dr Stephens. The Labor candidate cut the margin by 20pc, which was partly a function of the redistribution.
Reflecting on her political career, Ms Goward said it was enormously gratifying when Premier Gladys Berejiklian fully appreciated that Goulburn was a regional growth centre.
"This wasn't just me asking for handouts because the community wanted them. This was something that was of advantage to everybody and their future," she said.
In addition, the recent commitment of an initial $80 million to straighten train tracks between Menangle and Yerrinbool had recognised the need for faster rail.
"(But) every time we got a win, whether for an individual or the region, it was sweet," Ms Goward told The Post.
But there have also been tougher times. Ms Goward said advocating for one's community was not as easy as it looked and she had her share of knock backs from Ministers.
"I was very cross when we decided to build the hospital and then didn't announce it until the February just before the 2015 election. It was a frustrating position to be in because it made it look like we were just doing it for the election when I'd made sure it was part of the four-year plan six months before that," she said.
Death threats as the Minister for Family and Community Services and Facebook trolls also took a toll. Ms Goward said the comments often hurt but she did it her best to ignore it and get on with the job.
"You have to be tougher and tougher to withstand that," she said.
"You get death threats as a Minister. It is devastating when you're getting up every morning trying to do your best. You're not perfect, not a genius and you don't have a magic wand but you're doing you best and trying desperately to get it right for people and then to see the nasty things people say about you and the threats, just kills you.
Now all of that is behind her.
Ms Goward said she was looking forward to the next chapter. This would include part-time work but not too much. Her options are open but she's ruling a line under elected political life.
"The most important thing is to be with David and to look after him," she said.
Ms Goward said she intended to keep living in Goulburn for as long as possible, a place with which she had fallen in love.
"It's wonderful to be part of the community," she said.
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