Rod Roberts admits to being a little bit "chuffed" by his latest gig.
The former Goulburn detective and One Nation member was elected to the NSW Upper House just last year This week he was appointed as that chamber's assistant president. He will preside when the president and deputy president are unavailable on sitting days.
"It's basically a referee's role and my job will be to keep the government and Opposition at arm's length from each other. I have to be impartial and fair to both sides," he explained.
Mr Roberts is not expecting the "rabble" of the federal parliament's House of Representatives. Instead, the NSW Upper House is "more orderly" and only occasionally has to be reined in, he says.
He was elected to the post on a 21 to 20 vote. The Coalition, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Fred Nile's Christian Democrats and One Nation supported him. Labor, The Greens and Independent Justin Field opposed the move.
"Mark Latham (One Nation leader) and I have only been there one year so I take that as a sign of the respect we have in the Chamber," Mr Roberts said.
"...I'm very chuffed but also a bit apprehensive about the role. It's a coveted position, with great responsibility to preside over the House and maintain its traditions. I want to ensure I do a good job."
He's anticipating hours of study to brush up on procedures.
Mr Roberts admits to being on a "steep learning curve" since his election as One Nation's NSW representative. He spent 20 years in the police force, part of that stationed in Goulburn, then briefly ran a local stock feed business before joining Ray White Real Estate as an agent and auctioneer. His wife now runs the workplace drug and alcohol testing firm the couple started.
"It's (politics) been interesting for someone that comes from a non-political background," Mr Roberts said.
"It's also been enjoyable and I like to think I've contributed constructively to policy."
He vehemently rejects Labor MLC Rose Jackson's claim that his party has "bigotry and racism at its core."
This week he mooted a motion on Aboriginal deaths in custody. He said between 1995 and 2019, there were 923 deaths is custody, including 112 deaths of Aboriginal persons.
"I moved the motion on the grounds it was not about black lives or white lives matter. It is about the truth matters," he said.
"What most people don't know is that since 1991, 60 per cent of Aboriginal deaths in custody have been due to natural causes...Most of the rhetoric is around bashings and suicide but once you whittle the figures down it's not as dramatic as it seems. The Parliament agrees we need to look at the true figures."
Nevertheless, Mr Roberts said it was essential that authorities looked at why there were so many Aboriginal deaths in custody and addressed the root causes. He believed their health issues and prevention were just as important.
As an MLC, he also sits on several committees. He's a member of the Select Committee on the Use of Battery Cages for Hens in the Egg Production Industry, another exploring a proposal to raise Warragamba Dam wall, and the First Nations People in Custody in NSW committee.
In the process, Mr Roberts has travelled extensively but has also advocated for issues closer to home - like Main Road 92's extension towards Tarago.
But he always likes returning to Goulburn.
"After 30 years of living here, I like to think I'm a local," Mr Roberts said.
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