It's 1993 and Mike Kelly is wrestling with a Somali warlord on a courtroom floor.
Hussan Gutaale Abdulon had just been sentenced to death after running over aid workers and refugees in an armoured personnel carrier.
The struggle, which spilled out onto the street in front of a broiling mass of spectators, was the culmination of a private war between the military legal officer and the bandits who were attempting to regain control of the southern Somalia town of Baidoa.
That willingness to put his body and soul into whatever he was doing is how the retired army colonel, turned Labor MP, managed to wrest the southern NSW seat of Eden-Monaro off the Coalition, not once but twice, ending its famous bellwether status.
But now his body is letting him down, forcing him to relinquish the electorate he fought so hard for and announce his retirement.
His departure will trigger a by-election, as Australia is in the midst of dealing with the coronavirus crisis.
But the timing of his resignation is his parting gift to his constituents, who were devastated by bushfires over summer, and whose slowgoing recovery has been overshadowed by the pandemic.
"We need our issues to be front and centre - the only way we could achieve that is by having a byelection," Dr Kelly said.
"People will have to compete for your vote so intensely that it will be a real contest of ideas about what matters to our region, things like dealing seriously with climate change but also most importantly now a proper recovery package that will rebuild our economy and beyond."
Six months ago, Dr Kelly was driving on Yass Road in Queanbeyan when he was struck down in absolute agony, vomiting and passing blood. He was doped up on morphine at the Queanbeyan emergency department, before being whisked across the border for emergency surgery.
It uncovered massive kidney stones, caused by periods of severe dehydration during his military service.
In Timor, he contracted a bug that left him vomiting and bedridden for days, with no medical support or rehydration. In Iraq, the 56-degree heat killed many soldiers and left others, like Dr Kelly, with lingering effects.
"There was a 14-millimetre monster trying to rip its way through my body," Dr Kelly said.
In the months since, he's had 10 operations. Once, kidney stones that extensive would have had to be cut out or an ultrasound to be used to break up the stones. Both methods would have caused severe kidney damage.
Instead, surgeon Dr Hodo Haxhimolla used a pioneering laser surgery to break the stones up, slowly and painstakingly. It has meant Dr Kelly was able to keep his kidneys but has had to undergo long periods under general anaesthesia.
The procedures have knocked him around. He had a particularly nasty bout of sepsis, and also nearly lost his bladder at once stage. The gall bladder will most likely still have to be removed.
Combined with his deteriorating osteoarthritis, it has left Dr Kelly unable to serve his 42,000 square kilometre electorate to the standard he knows it deserves.
"I've agonised over it. I was always prepared to change my mind right up until I handed that letter over to the speaker today, I've lost much sleep over it, I can't tell you," Dr Kelly said.
"But, you know, I just, at the end of the day, don't see any other honourable way forward in the circumstances."
Dr Kelly was lured into politics by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to contest the 2007 election. He'd served 20 years in the military, staring down genocidal warlords in Somalia, murdering militia in Timor and even Saddam Hussein in Iraq, so he was ready for a fight.
Eden-Monaro is one of Australia's most marginal seats. It is also geographically and demographically diverse, taking in some of the country's highest peaks, pristine coastline and great belts of farmland - and whoever takes it usually wins government.
Dr Kelly campaigned while on long service leave, and bought his first-ever home in Queanbeyan at age 47. However he was accused of being a blow-in by the incumbent Liberal member for the seat, Gary Nairn, who was quick to point out Dr Kelly had never lived in the electorate and had trouble pronouncing its name at one point.
However, Dr Kelly's family had settled in the area in 1865. His great grandfather Benjamin Kelly stood unsuccessfully for Lang Labor in the 1940 election. "This is my home. My family has been in a region for 160 years, you know, I drive past creeks and roads and buildings named after them. It's special to me. I'm related to half the electorate," Dr Kelly said.
Dr Kelly lost his seat at the 2013 wipeout but gained it back in 2016, breaking 44 years of bellwether tradition.
ABC election analyst Antony Green estimated Dr Kelly's popularity alone gave Labor a 3-4 per cent boost in the seat, according to leader Anthony Albanese.
"It's always tough. I don't think people appreciate that in the 119 history of Eden-Monaro not one member's given a valedictory speech. Every single one of us has tasted defeat," Dr Kelly said.
The area has also been smashed by the drought and the Black Summer bushfires. Some of Dr Kelly's constituents are still living in tents waiting for assistance to arrive.
It's why he believes climate change will be a fixture of the upcoming by-election - and why as much as he likes NSW Nationals MP John Barilaro personally, he won't give him his endorsement.
"John and I have worked together for quite a long time now ... I've got a very good personal relationship with him," Dr Kelly said.
"To me this isn't about my personal relationships with people, it's about that contest of ideas ... and what's going to be in the best interests of this region. For example he and I differ in relation to climate change for example.
"Climate change is a huge issue for us. We're the canary in the coalmine in Australia. I don't think people realise how important the ski industry is to the Monaro for example, it's 50 per cent of the Monaro economy, you're talking about a $2 billion industry. And every year that goes by ... the season's shortening, cover is rising and thinning. It can only go one way if temperatures continue to increase.
"Then there's the fact the extreme weather is really making life very hard for the orchardists in Batlow, for farmers all over the region, and the extreme disasters of now have knocked out timber industries, really given them a huge hit, and tourism suffers as well through all that so we have suffered more than any other area in Australia from the extreme effects of climate change. And what we know is it will only get worse if we don't lead now."
It's a fight Dr Kelly is keen to continue, but in a new way. He is leaving politics with a lot of unfinished business, and many regrets, but he will stay in this region and find a different way to contribute than public life.
"I ain't going anywhere. I'm going to continue to fight every day and advocate for this region every day and support 'em in any way I can," Dr Kelly said.
"No politician should come out of their time here feeling satisfied, we should all come out feeling frustrated, because we should have ambitions for our country. And, and the motivation to make a difference that's beyond what we're able to achieve."
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