NEXT CHAPTER: Former Member for Mirani Jim Pearce pictured outside Queensland Parliament.
NEXT CHAPTER: Former Member for Mirani Jim Pearce pictured outside Queensland Parliament. Annette Dew

'You have to make sacrifices': Former MP reveals his regrets

AFTER more than two decades serving his community in the Queensland Parliament, Jim Pearce just wants be a better dad.

The former Labor Member for Mirani has been taking stock of what counts after his shock ousting to One Nation's Stephen Andrew in last year's state election.

In the lead-up to his 70th birthday on July 28, Mr Pearce reflected on 23 years spent as an MP - the achievements he's proud of, the regrets and the overarching sense he could've done more.

While the dad of four and granddad of eight, first elected in 1989, is proud of the work he managed to plug through as a member, he's left with a sense it was all cut just a bit short.

Mr Pearce reckons he's just about "over the hill” when it comes to politics anyway, but admitted it's hard to let go.

Though it's probably for the best in the end: he's keen to make amends with his long-suffering family, exclaiming "I haven't been a very good dad over the years”.

"I've tried to improve things with my family because, to be honest, I haven't been the best dad around, simply because I've been flat out all my life. I've got grandkids and they've basically grown up in front of me, without me being around too much. I feel bad about that, but I know I was always committed to the job, I always put everything into the job,” he said.

"I think my family has suffered greatly simply because of the attitude that I had to have if I was determined to do my job properly. I could've done a lot better with the way I kept in contact and kept close to the family.

"I'm trying to make some adjustments so I can spend a bit more time with the family. When you're laying on your deathbed you don't want to think you should have spent more time with the ones who matter.”

It's a brave admission by anyone's standards, and an issue which clearly troubles Mr Pearce on the back of a political career spent embroiled in behind-the-scenes advocacy; often a 24-7 endeavour.

"You have to make some sacrifices somewhere,” he acknowledged.

"I believed in doing the best job I can. I have a very, very humble background. I saw our family suffer through lack of opportunity, not being able to access proper accommodation,” he said.

"I was determined I was going to make a difference for people who really struggle. The people we walk past every day on the street or in the supermarket... we don't really know how bad some of those people we come in regular contact with (are faring) due to a lack of job opportunities, being underemployed, or low paid, or treated harshly by employers.

"You have to sit down and talk to people. You have to understand your community. There's real big problems out there, and not enough help for those who just need a little helping hand.”

Mr Pearce said much of his time spent in public office involved sorting out problems within the community, with little fanfare, or offering what advice he could.

"When I was first elected my focus was always on doing what I could for the community to give them a fair go,” he said. "I remember driving out to Blackwater one night, at 2.40am, to speak to a community member who I was a bit concerned about.

"And having to get people planes to travel interstate because someone's very, very sick, or there's been a death in the family.

"People who've been done over by a car salesman who's sold them a lemon. It's all these little things you're doing every day which the average person often doesn't see or understand.”

But Mr Pearce said attempts to help were often made difficult by the political back-and-forth, backed by the relentless 24/7 digital news cycle.

He called for much greater co-operation from politicians, no matter their party, and said he hoped the next generation of politicians would hold themselves to a higher standard.

When asked if he's keeping an eye on Mr Andrew's actions within the Mirani electorate, Mr Pearce said he'd averted his attention to avoid stirring up negative emotions.

And about that infamous slip of the tongue - the uncensored catch-call of "bulls---” on national television at the conclusion of the 2017 election?

The Vietnam vet holds no regrets and said he was bombarded with text messages after the widely celebrated display of his unbridled frustration, following what he described as the dirtiest election campaign he had ever been involved in.

Currently, Sydney-born Mr Pearce is based in Brisbane, where he has been making an effort to solidify family ties.

"After the election, it was towards the end of the year, so I was planning on taking a holiday, which I did. Then I've sat down and had a bit of a think about the adjustment that I had to make,” he said. "Going from virtually a 24/7 lifestyle to sitting around scratching my backside and wondering what I'm going to do with myself.

"Honestly, I really haven't done a lot at all and now I'm starting to look for another job, simply through boredom.

"I've looked at several options, whether voluntary work through people like the Salvation Army or a food bank, or something to do with the Returned Servicemen (RSL).”

Mr Pearce, who was Member for Mirani from 2015-2017 also represented the seats of Broadsound (1989-1992) and Fitzroy (1992-2009) during his time in office, dismissed any return to politics - in the near future, at least.

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