I thought i'd be unemployed about now. Happily it's not turned out that way.

I have spent the week up to my eyeballs in mud, knocking over a concrete wall. Who'd have guessed?

All my life I have said yes to things that scared me. My reasoning was simple: I didn't want to go through life wondering what might have been.

It's been a great strategy. I got to see the world, work on North Sea oil rigs, and lecture at university, all because I said yes.


It's how I ended up a politician. The thought terrified me initially. But I didn't want to look back and wonder what politics might have been like. So I jumped right in.

It turned out to be a great privilege. I loved every minute. What had terrified me was the thought of being in the public eye and the endless criticism you face. But public criticism proved to be like rain when you are working outside. It rains. You get wet. Get over it.

And then there was the time I felt sick when asked to go on Dancing with the Stars. I also figured that nothing would ever frighten me again if I did it, and that's certainly proved true.

After getting the toss from Parliament last year, I spent six months renovating our house, top to bottom. It was the best therapy after years of politics.

I know now what to do if there is ever a gap to fill in my life: Get an old house and fix it up. It's a huge challenge and very satisfying. Living in a freshly minted house is the best and it's even better when it's your own work you can look at every day with pride. And seeing the delight in former owner Mary's face, she is now 89, was rather neat.

My plan then had been to put my feet up a bit to enjoy the new house and figure out what to do next. Then Ian the Builder needed a hand at his next job. We put up a new ceiling together.

It was like old times.

And through that job I met Roger the Digger Driver. He needed an extra pair of hands on his next job.


So I have spent the week with Roger and the boys taking down a 3m concrete retaining wall. The wall ran the length of a section and had fallen against the house it was supposed to protect. It was a tricky demolition.

My job involved getting down in the mud with a sledgehammer, a crowbar and a wheelbarrow. After the first day I ached all over. But by the second day I was into the routine.

Roger says that 20 per cent of those who work for him don't come back after the first morning tea, another 20 per cent disappear after lunch, and another 20 per cent get their mums to ring the following morning to say Johnny won't be coming to work.

The remaining 40 per cent work with him for the rest of their lives.

It's good money, too. It's half what I was getting as an MP but it's only half the hours. Plus smashing up concrete is pure stress relief and a good workout.

During the week I was taught how to take down a concrete wall. It now looks like I will be learning to put one up. Bill, the Retaining Wall Man, came to have a look at the job, and to tell me he's a man short.

When I was a politician I was supposed to pretend sympathy for people without a job. The truth is I never had much. I always figured there's work to be done for anyone prepared to get stuck in. I now know that's true. I got a job pushing a wheelbarrow and swinging a hammer. Why can't the so-called unemployed? We all know why. They're too picky. The jobs don't suit. It's a bit cold. It's a bit wet. It's a bit hard.

But that's why they are called jobs. They are not meant to be fun. They're meant to be a bit tough and a bit of a challenge. That's where the satisfaction of a good day's work comes from. There's no satisfaction if it's easy.

There would be no unemployed people if everyone took the first job offered and got stuck in. If they got stuck in, they would love the work. They would then be offered a multitude of jobs and could pick and choose what they wanted to do.

So here's my challenge for anyone wanting a job. Get off the dole. That shows you are serious. Take the first job offered. That shows you are keen. Get stuck in. That proves you're useful.

There's no doubt that you will surprise yourself. Just like I surprised myself last week.