When Mr Gray was Federal Labor’s parliamentary secretary during the 1990s, he sent about 30 staff to South Africa to work on Mr Mandela’s successful African National Congress (ANC) election campaign.
It was an election that changed the country and marked the end of apartheid.
‘Mr Mandela will leave a legacy, not only for South Africa, but for the world,’ Mr Gray said.
In Mr Gray’s Kent Street office, an original cardboard-mounted ANC election poster from the campaign hangs proudly in his board room.
It was one of 400 Mr Gray bought from a man who had collected them to build a home out of in a shantytown.
‘I’ve got two left, one in my office and one at home,’ he said. ‘I’ve given many away as prizes and gifts, there aren’t many original prints left in the world.’
Mr Gray also has an original ballot paper from the election framed in his Canberra office ” a reminder of what politicians in other countries face compared with those in Australia.
‘Discussing what this man had to face in the same sentence as modern Australian politics and the 24-hour media cycle is almost embarrassing,’ he said.
‘He has been a lifelong constant for his people, a constant for South Africa ‘