IF YOU ask Wal Fife what kept him going in politics for 36 years, his answer is simple and to the point.
"I liked what I was doing," he said.
A detailed insight into Mr Fife's time representing Wagga in state and federal politics is about to become available in the city, with his parliamentary office faithfully recreated at the Mount Erin Boarding School.
The office, which will open from Saturday, features troves of information, from press clippings to parliamentary records lining two walls of the room, that document his political career.
"When I got into parliament, I kept everything that came my way," Mr Fife said.
The National Library of Australia's collection of Mr Fife's "manuscripts", as he likes to refer to the advice and correspondence that crossed his parliamentary desk, numbers some 500 boxes of documents.
He hopes the new Wagga collection will aid researchers in the city with a keen interest in politics.
Mr Fife first stood for the state seat of Wagga aged just 23, but it was not until 1957, when he was 28, that he was successfully elected, following the death of the sitting Labor member Eddie Graham.
He was elevated to the frontbench a decade later, serving various periods in the mines, power, conservation and transport ministries before packing up and heading for Canberra in 1975.
Taking his seat in federal parliament as the member for Farrer, Mr Fife was initially the Business and Consumer Affairs Minister before moving to education and subsequently aviation before the Fraser government was dumped by voters in 1983.
Mr Fife stayed in opposition for another decade, moving to the Hume electorate in 1984 due to a redistribution that moved Wagga out of Farrer, before calling it a day in 1993.
Of his time in parliament, he recalls a much friendlier atmosphere in the chamber, on both sides of the aisle.
One of his closest friends in parliament was the former Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, a friendship formed in 1958, soon after Mr Fife was elected as the member for Wagga.
"He and his wife and Marcia and I were great friends ... you don't see that today," he said.
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