Strength lies within, says Porter

Christian Porter.
Christian Porter.

‘On 23 November 1956, a painfully angular 19-year-old Brisbane boy with a physique the cross between a praying mantis and a wire coat hanger jumped for his country on the first day of the Melbourne Olympic Games. That boy was my father. He competed in what was then and what remains to this day the longest and most engrossing field event in Olympic history. After over six hours of competition, the entire crowd remained at the MCG, well into the deep cusp of twilight. They watched breathless as Chilla Porter, on his third and final attempt at six foot 11½ inches (2.12m), clipped the bar ever so gently. It wobbled for what seemed like an age and eventually dislodged and fell in silence with him to the sandpit. In the result, he was beaten by the great African-American athlete Charles Dumas, who had made the same height with his own second attempt, setting an Olympic record.

If the maiden speech is for the existential questions of politics : who is the Member? Why are they here? What do they believe? Then for reasons that I cannot perfectly explain, the authentic explanation for me somehow starts with that event in 1956. This event, which passed into Porter family folklore long before my birth, has woven itself into my being in subterranean ways. Why it affects me is hard to say, but affect me it does. For a not particularly demonstrative person, it is an event that percolates emotion through me with even shallow reflections on it’