Indian community leader Deepak-Raj Gupta quit his long-time career in the federal public service just last Friday, looking to take some time for reflection and a career change after the recent death of both parents.
The career change landed out of the blue in his lap on Wednesday. Mr Gupta will be elected on countback to the ACT parliament, filling the spot left by the sudden resignation of Meegan Fitzharris.
"I was thinking to just take time for myself and maybe their blessing must have come through now," he said of his parents, saddened that they were not here for the news.
"If there's a life after death they must be looking down and they must be feeling proud."
Mr Gupta's father died last year and his mother on April 25 this year.
Mr Gupta was yet to speak with Ms Fitzharris on Wednesday morning but had received a call from the party executive about her resignation. He plans to meet Mr Barr and the party secretariat today.
He spent 17 years in the public service, working in the Defence Department until last Friday, his departure prompted by the loss of his parents and a decision to seek change.
Mr Gupta is a former chairman of the Australian Indian Business Council and had been considering working in trade between Australia and India before the shock change in career brought about by Ms Fitzharris' decision.
Ms Fitzharris' replacement would have been Jayson Hinder, former chairman of the Bendigo Bank, but Mr Hinder was killed in a motorcycling accident in California shortly after the 2016 election, leaving Mr Gupta as the only Labor candidate of the five members who stood for the Gungahlin-based electorate of Yerrabi. He was lowest polling of the five, with 5.8 per cent of the vote. Ms Fitzharris far outpolled the others, with 15.2 per cent.
Mr Gupta does not belong to either Labor faction, and his election will change the factional balance in the ACT parliament. Ms Fitzharris is a member of Labor's right. The right will be left with just four members of the Labor team, and the left with six. Mr Gupta will join Gordon Ramsay as unaligned, and will no doubt be wooed by the factions.
Mr Barr said Mr Gupta would join the right faction, but Mr Gupta said he remained unaligned and expected to do so in the meantime while he found his feet in the parliament.
He was a firm supporter of Mr Barr, he said.
"I have great faith in Andrew Barr. He's one of the smartest people I have met. I have great respect for him," Mr Gupta said.
He had found Mr Barr supportive and receptive as he organised Indian cultural events in the city, and he had been working towards a visit by Mr Barr to India.
Mr Gupta was born in India, and was the first of his family to move to Australia, moving in 1989 in his early 20s to study in Melbourne, where he washed cars to support himself. He moved to Canberra in 2001 with his wife and their daughter, now 22, and the couple had a son in Canberra, now aged 15. Mr Gupta's wife also works in the federal public service.