IMAGINE doing a job for five years and then losing it on the brink of becoming one of NSW's most powerful people.
That was the situation that confronted politician Greg Aplin in 2011.
The member for Albury had been in Opposition for eight years and a shadow minister for five years when Liberal Party leader Barry O'Farrell was elected premier.
But unlike every other Lower House member of the shadow ministry, Mr Aplin did not get the chance to be a minister in the first state Coalition government since 1995.
"It was a surprise and it was politics at play," Mr Aplin says.
"My wife was quite happy because it meant I would be around a little bit more; in that capacity you are away an enormous amount from your home turf, because you have responsibilities across the state and you work out of Sydney a lot as well, but it was a disappointment."
Asked what he meant by "politics at play", Mr Aplin replied: "It's called favours and numbers and looking after the future."
IN OTHER NEWS:
The former Albury Prime television station manager's politics style is more Marquess of Queensbery than Machiavellian.
"I've never been a major political manipulative player and I recognise that that is the role of some, it's not the thing that I wanted to follow," Mr Aplin said.
"I don't believe it serves the local area very well."
So while organisations wrote letters to Mr O'Farrell expressing disgust at Mr Aplin's treatment, the father of four adopted a pragmatic rather than petulant response.
"You come to accept it, I think it is important, as I've pointed out in the partyroom on occasions that I would have more reason than most to be bitter but what does that serve?" Mr Aplin said.
"It's much better to get on with the job and deliver for your area.
"I'd been through a lot of change in my life and you get knocked down, you get up, you dust yourself off and you get on with the job."
Having shifted careers, countries and schools, the African-born 66-year-old called on that resilience after his ministerial ambitions were thwarted.
Indeed now when asked what his political highlights are, Mr Aplin cites everyday issues, telling of helping people with housing, health problems or school difficulties.
One woman, delighted with accommodation assistance, then called for another favour.
"She asked if we could help move her possessions," Mr Aplin said with a laugh.
"We had to draw the line at that, we thought it was quite amusing that we were cast in that mould, she obviously trusted us."
As for infrastructure, his first thought is to nominate something more universal than Albury's new ambulance station or the Riverina Highway upgrade to Lake Hume.
"All the school fences that are needed have now been completed, all the safe zones for schools, those 40km/h zones for the flashing lights, every school now has them and they've been proven to cut down the rate of crashes," Mr Aplin said.
Having been elected in 2003, the former staffer for federal Liberal MP Sussan Ley has seen the rise of social media with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter emerging in his time in Macquarie Street.
"That proliferation allows the dissemination of opinion very quickly, which wasn't the case previously and there are trends that go for a day and then die out," Mr Aplin says.
Although he has done videos for his professional Facebook page, Mr Aplin suggests social media can be detrimental for a politician wanting to take a well-judged stance.
"Talking to young groups some time ago, I talked about this current trend for instant gratification, people want it now, and that's symptomatic of all those medias - 'that this is happening right now, what do you feel about it?'," he said.
"I think that in our job we have a responsibility to consider it more seriously and to give a response which is perhaps based on some research and some fact-finding and searching perhaps other sides to the question.
"I've seen people get themselves into trouble privately, personally and also in the political sphere by responding instantly, having an emotional response perhaps, and it comes back to bite horribly."
Such caution was evident during the debate over safe zones at abortion clinics, with Mr Aplin not making his position clear until the matter hit the floor of Parliament.
"I grew up trained in foreign affairs," he said.
"I wear a tie because that's the way we were trained, sure I don't wear it all the time, but I do for formal functions and in this role there's almost an expectation.
"But things change and I am of that era and you were taught to research and reach an opinion but not to react immediately without necessarily giving some consideration to the issue.
"That (safe zone) was one that certainly was the case that I went out to seek in the end public views on it, having met with a lot of different groups along the way."
Mr Aplin believes "enormous progress" has been made with cross border issues, mentioning the ability for volunteer rescue divers to search the Murray River rather than having to wait for police specialists from Sydney.
"It doesn't always work out the way you think," the Liberal MP said.
"One would think it would be advantageous to have one fishing licence for the area, but I've heard from the fishing groups they're quite happy to continue with dual licences because they recognise in NSW the money goes into a fund that then contributes to hatchlings releasing fingerlings into the rivers."
The biggest shake-up to the governance of the Albury electorate during Mr Aplin's reign has been council amalgamations.
When he was elected there were the shires of Corowa, Culcairn, Henty, Hume, Tumbarumba in his patch, now they have gone in two sets of amalgamations by Labor and then the Coalition.
Mr Aplin opposed Tumbarumba being wed to Tumut and forming Snowy Valleys Council but he is sceptical about the smaller town being able to revert to its own shire.
Mr Aplin notes with anonymity that in recent times his ties with Albury's council have been shaped by mayor turned independent political candidate Kevin Mack.
"People with their own political aspirations decided to basically attack regularly, not with much basis mind you, but they still expected the funding," Mr Aplin said.
"Political aspirations, they own personal aggrandisement I think is at the heart of that.
"I've endeavoured to this job with integrity and to represent the views of all and where there has been a good case by the city council put up for funding we've been happy to work in conjunction."
As we conclude the interview at Mr Aplin's office in Dean Street, he reflects three policies he flagged as a shadow minister had been taken up in government.
Paying creditors on time, standardised contracts for retirement villages and better governance of residential estates are a legacy of the diplomatic MP.