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Believer in something bigger

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NSW Deputy Opposition Leader Prue Car stands outside St Mary’s Cathedral. Her Catholic schooling and faith have made a big difference in her life, she says, especially after a serious health scare earlier this year. PHOTO: ALPHONSUS FOK

A passion for politics was fostered by her own Catholic background and experience of Catholic education, says influential NSW Labor MP Prue Car

Despite it being one of Prue Car’s favourite times of the year, her Christmas break will be short lived, as she heads back to work early to contest the March State Election.
But the time she does have away from the office will be spent with family and friends reflecting on the blessings she has received throughout 2022.

In a year of highs and lows, the NSW deputy opposition leader confesses she has much to be grateful for.

In July she had an aggressive tumour successfully removed from her kidney and in October got engaged to long-time partner Brad.
Through it all, the mother of one is in no doubt God has been walking the path alongside her.

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She said the many blessings she has received has reminded her how important her faith is.
“Every Christmas we try and get our family together. It’s such an important time of year for reflecting on what we can all be thankful for – particularly our family and friends,” she told The Catholic Weekly recently.

“However, it will be a very short Christmas break for me this year, with the March election now close at hand. My hope for the New Year is my family and friends are happy and healthy – anything beyond that is a bonus.

“Although I must say what I have been through with my health over the past six months has taken me back to the real faith of my childhood.

“You really must believe in something bigger and doing something for the greater good.

“I am so thankful for the faith I was raised with both by my parents and my Catholic schooling, which is something I have held close to me throughout my life.”

The Member for Londonderry said the shock diagnosis was made thanks to Brad insisting she see a doctor following migraines, lethargy and generally feeling unwell. When discovered, the tumour was four centimetres wide. By the time she went into hospital three weeks later to have it removed, it had almost doubled.

The young Prue Car as a student at Caroline Chisholm College, Glenmore Park, with her-then English teacher Michelle Elborough, above left, whom she credits for her passion for politics. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

While she is appreciative of the hard working and skilled doctors and nurses, she also acknowledges the health system is in need of some urgent attention.

“I went through the private system to get the surgery quickly but if I had gone on the public waiting list, the surgeon told me in no uncertain terms that I’d be waiting at least three months,” she said.

“I assumed that if you had a cancerous tumour, you would be expedited to get it out.

“I remember asking the surgeon ‘what happens if you need to wait’, and he said ‘it grows’.

“I don’t think anyone on either side of politics would think that’s acceptable and I represent many in my electorate who could not afford to go private.

“The system really needs a lot of work.

“I think everybody knows Brad Hazzard (NSW Health Minister) is an outstanding individual, he’s given 30-plus years to the people of NSW, and he reached out to me and I had a good conversation with him about my experience and how it is so very different for many.”

The shadow deputy leader, who also holds Labor’s portfolio for education and early childhood learning, will battle for her third term following a victory in 2019 after she was elected in 2015. Just three months out, Prue believes the 2023 election will be a watershed moment in NSW politics.

Both leaders and deputies are 42 or younger, which she believes to be a first.

“I think it will be an interesting election as both Chris (Minns) and Dom (Perrottet) are very similar in that they are around the same age, are family men, have lots of kids and are openly Catholic who clearly think from a framework of families,” she said.

“While it’s the job of the Opposition to criticise government, I think Chris’ Catholic background drives him to make the community the sort of society he wants to lead.

“Being Catholics, Chris and I sometimes talk about our faith if we have big decisions to make.

“Our faith is bred in us and while it’s personal, I believe we should also live it out in the

world.
“We require people who have previously voted Liberal and National to vote Labor and that’s a significant change which is going to take a lot of hard work.

With Chris Minns, leader of the NSW Labor party. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“But at the end of the day I can hand-on-heart say that the faith I was brought up on influences me in everything I do, including politics. And I suppose particularly who my school was named after – Caroline Chisholm – and what she did for immigrants coming to Australia, you can really see how that would inspire a young woman.”

A member of the Labor Party at just 15, Prue credits her English teacher at Caroline Chisholm College at Glenmore Park for her passion for politics.

“Mrs Michelle Elborough told me to take the day off to go to a Labor party function at the height of the 1998 Federal election campaign as a very zealous 15-year-old,” she said.

“To be honest the Catholic school system was such an important environment for me and I put a lot down to the environment at Chisholm for a lot of what’s happened in my life.

“It had a huge focus on the pursuit of social justice which was very influential on me.

“My school had a really outward-looking focus on creating young women that would be of service and since then I’ve met so many people of similar backgrounds on both sides of politics.

“What a nerd taking a day off school for politics at just 15! But looking back there’s no doubt the combination of my schoolteachers, principal, parents and Catholic values completely influenced me and made the person I am today.”

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