All-consuming life in politics takes heavy toll
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