After 22 years in politics, Tony Windsor said the thing he missed most about being an MP was talking to people.
The former Independent MP said in one 10-year period he had 10,000 chats with constituents.
Almost none of them were about legislation.
"Quite often, particularly people who had mental illness, for instance, they wanted to have a yarn to someone," he said.
"Some of them wanted to have a bitch about their circumstances. But a lot of people just wanted to call in and have a yarn."
QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY HONOURS:
As the long-term local MP for New England he was everyone's captive audience, social worker and, in one case, money lender.
"I don't think a lot of people recognise the time that all parliamentarians, particularly country parliamentarians put in while they're working. Because they're away a lot," Mr Windsor said.
"In my case it was left to [wife] Lyn to raise three kids because I was involved for 22 years. I think [at the start my] eldest was seven or eight, and the youngest hadn't been born when I first went into politics.
"I think a lot of people get confused about what the job is. The job is to be a representative of the people who come to see you."
The former Member for New England and Tamworth has been recognised for his service to the parliaments of NSW and Australia, becoming a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
Australia's Honours system, developed by the Whitlam government in the 70s, has recently come under criticism for disproportionately selecting already prominent bureaucrats and politicians. Less than a third have gone to women.
Mr Windsor said he agreed with that criticism.
He mentioned Harold and Joyce Durran, a couple from the Werris Creek area who had worked hard for the community all their lives without representation.
"They're the unsung heroes of all our communities. They're out there, some get recognised, some don't," he said.
"I don't think that affects their capacity to do their work either. They do it because the want to help people, not with some sort of aspiration to get a knighthood at the end of it."