Bryan Doyle reminds me of the Energizer bunny: you know, he just keeps going and going and never ever runs out of fuel.
He’s not so much a bundle of nerves as a walking, talking force of endless energy.
And then there’s also that ever present smile, which can form like a sly, boyish grin. Which also reminds you of the battery bunny.
But there’s a lot more to the energetic and smiling State Member for Campbelltown, who shocked the world in 2011 when he won the election for the Liberal Party.
This was big news; it went national, possibly international, because leading into the election that year you couldn’t find one single person in Campbelltown who thought it could ever send a Liberal Party man to Macquarie Street. Indeed for many years no sane local person had even contemplated the absurd notion that one day someone other than a Labor Party candidate would be the local MP.
Yet, here we are just under four months out from the next election and Bryan Doyle is smiling his energetic way towards a potential second term as the Liberal Party guy from Campbelltown.
I interviewed him at his Queen Street office on a Monday, just after the big weekend which launches the town’s marvellous annual shindig, the Fisher’s Ghost Festival.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of Campbelltown’s sister city association with Japanese town Koshigaya, and its political leaders have flown over for the festivities. So there’s a lot more functions to attend than usual and I expect to find him a little weary.
No way. He looks as energetic as ever and that famous smile is never too far away.
As he was earlier this year when he officially opened the Darrell Lea factory in Ingleburn’s industrial estate, shaking the hands of the punters, always wearing a smile, and telling me a little later: Boy, I love this job.
I was taken aback a little, but it’s true. Just watch him at public events and Bryan Doyle looks like he is in his natural element at last and he is determined to squeeze every moment of enjoyment out of it.
So at the Monday interview I ask him where it came from, was it some of the best advice he had ever received, something like that?
“My father told me, never take yourself seriously, and I have followed this great advice,’’ he says.
“But I also like people and I also believe it’s a privilege to be MP, to be able to help people.’’
Anyone else give you some good advice?
“Yes, Pat Farmer [the former federal member for Macarthur and long distance runner] did. Pat said to me, go into politics, you’d be good at it. I took his advice, doorknocked as many homes as possible, lost seven kilos in the process and here I am today.
“Another of my strengths is that I am resilient, which is very important in politics to get things you want to achieve.
“I also have strong values, and you need to have values to go into politics and get things done,’’ he says.
When he took up Farmer’s advice and got into politics, Doyle left behind a 27 year career in the NSW police force. He was the Chief Inspector at Campbelltown Police command from 2005 to 2010.
He became a policeman for the same reason he got into politics: “I joined the police force to make a difference for the better,’’ he recalls.
“The ideals of duty and service where installed in me by my parents at a very early age, and I continued this throughout my 27 years of policing career, where my motto was that policing was done for and with the community.’’
But what really cemented his thinking, indeed his values, was being involved in a fatal accident in 1998 which he survived.
“That sort of thing makes you really think, it makes you reflect about your values and about what to do with your life.
“You just can’t help thinking you were spared for some reason.’’
Bryan Doyle was born in Wollongong, the third of five children and grew up in Bankstown.
“I had a great childhood with my four siblings and grew up surrounded by the love of a large family,’’ he tells me.
He attended St Patrick’s College, Strathfield, before going to the University of Technology Sydney, where he completed a Bachelor of Laws.
He furthered his studies with a Graduate Certificate in Management at the University of Wollongong and then a Master in Business Administration at Charles Sturt University.
One of Bryan Doyle’s favourite activities is attending the Campbelltown Council run citizenship ceremony once a month on a Monday night.
“You ought to come,’’ he says. “it’s just great, to see the faces of these people when they become Australians, some of them have tears in their eyes.’’
The thing is, Bryan Doyle knows that Australia is one big family of migrants, and loves that too about our great country.
He’s no exception: “My great grandfather Mick Doyle arrived in Sydney from Ireland in 1881,’’ he says.
“On my father’s side of the family there are four convicts, of whom two lived on the Thomas Rose farm which is now Rosemeadow.
“I just love seeing people from all parts of the world take up Australian citizenship.
“And once you do that you’re an Australian, you’re not not a Greek-Australian, or German-Australian, just Australian.
“And do you know why that is: because you realise how lucky you are to live in the best country in the world.”
He is just as effusive about how good Campbelltown is as he is about the whole country.
“I constantly refer to Campbelltown as the opal of the south west, the very best part of the Macarthur district,’’ he says.
“Campbelltown and the whole of Macarthur region has undergone immense change in the last 10 years, due in part to the south west growth centre on our doorstep.
“This has brought with it opportunity for new housing, local employment and much needed infrastructure to the area.
“The announcement of the Badgerys Creek airport will see unprecedented infrastructure spending in the area, which is in addition to the upgrades happening on Narellan Road, Campbelltown Hospital extensions, the south west rail line and upgrades to the M5,’’ Doyle says.
As his four year term will end in March when the election will be held, I ask him to list his achievements in office.
“We have put Campbelltown on the map,’’ he replies.
Then he lists the renewal projects of the local housing commission estates of Minto and Airds – and Claymore, followed by Rosemeadow are next on the list – huge spending on widening of Narellan Road, massive expansion of the hospital, the University of Western Sydney Campbelltown campus, a push for regional city status and a campaign for new sports stadium to be built here.
I ask him if he is ambitious and would like to go up higher in politics and he gives me an honest answer: “Yes, like everyone else in the parliament, I would like to serve as a minister, maybe the Justice portfolio.’’
Doyle, who has been married for 30 years (“and have been blessed with two beautiful daughters’’) and lives at Ambarvale, would no doubt take the extra workload in his stride.
After all he’s got to use up that boundless energy somehow.
But he surprises me when I ask him if he does anything to try to relax after a day of countless meeting and shaking of God knows how many hands.
“Tour de Rosie,’’ he replies and repeats it when I shake my head to indicate I don’t get it.
We’re on our third “Tour de Rosie’’ routine when he decides he’d better explain it or we’ll be there all day.
“You’ve heard of the Tour de France,’’ he asks me.
“Off course, the bicycle race,’’ this village idiot replies.
“Well, I get on a bicycle and ride for 20-30 kilometres around Rosemeadow, Rosie, get it?’’
The member for Campbelltown is smiling as he says it.