All-con­sum­ing life in pol­i­tics takes heavy toll

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - DAVID KILLICK Anal­y­sis

MATT Groom knew even be­fore he stood for elec­tion the bur­den of pub­lic life. He was just four when his fa­ther en­tered Fed­eral Par­lia­ment as the mem­ber for Brad­don. He ac­knowl­edged as much in his maiden speech. “I was ex­posed to pol­i­tics at a very early age and, as most here would ap­pre­ci­ate, pol­i­tics can be at its worst an all­con­sum­ing af­fair, not just for the mem­ber but also for their fam­i­lies,” he said. How true this has been. Mr Groom said he was putting his own fam­ily first and look­ing for a life and a ca­reer af­ter pol­i­tics. Few would blame him. Af­fa­ble, smart and with strong cre­den­tials in busi­ness and the law, Mr Groom’s three years as Min­is­ter for State Growth, En­ergy, En­vi­ron­ment, and Parks and Her­itage would be enough to test the most stoic of coun­te­nances. That’s with­out the re­cent bur­den of be­ing the state’s act­ing Jus­tice Min­is­ter and At­tor­ney-Gen­eral. As a se­nior min­is­ter in the Hodg­man Gov­ern­ment, he built a rep­u­ta­tion as a solid per­former who nev­er­the­less didn’t en­joy a good run of luck. Most no­tably, he was the min­is­ter in the crosshairs dur­ing the 2016 en­ergy cri­sis, when the Basslink in­ter­con­nec­tor failed just as low rain­fall sapped dam lev­els. Gen­er­a­tors were de­ployed as fears of black­outs grew. Ma­jor in­dus­tri­als cut pro­duc­tion and the Gov­ern­ment’s plan to sell the gas­fired Tamar Val­ley Power Sta­tion was ex­posed as a stinker. Even­tu­ally, the rains came and saved him.

As Min­is­ter for State Growth, he was re­spon­si­ble for the Gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial ex­pres­sion-of-in­ter­est process for de­vel­op­ments in na­tional parks.

Get­ting the bal­ance on that was some­thing he did well. The process has lured out some solid pro­pos­als and has won praise, although the pace of de­vel­op­ment has been slow and the process shrouded in se­crecy.

Ear­lier this year, Mr Groom was in hot wa­ter af­ter fea­tur­ing in a chummy happy-snap with Mt Welling­ton ca­ble car backer Adrian Bold, rais­ing con­cerns the Gov­ern­ment was too close to the pro­po­nent.

Leg­is­la­tion to give that project a fur­ther leg-up looks set to sail through the Up­per House.

As Parks and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter, he’s had to lump spend­ing cuts and the Gov­ern­ment’s de­ter­mined push to re­open four-wheeldrive tracks which threaten an­cient Abo­rig­i­nal sites in the state’s North-West, a dif­fi­cult sell for a mod­er­ate who men­tioned cli­mate change seven times in his in­au­gu­ral speech.

Even his de­par­ture will pose dif­fi­cul­ties for the Lib­er­als. His are de­mand­ing port­fo­lios and he is a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Lib­eral politi­cian with a strong per­sonal fol­low­ing.

Some­one with Matt Groom’s ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions will have lit­tle trou­ble snap­ping up a plum job post-pol­i­tics

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