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Lara Giddings to leave Tasmanian politics: “I’m proud of what I’ve achieved – and proud there’s a big future for Labor”

Tasmania’s first female Premier and Member for Franklin Lara Giddings has formally announced her retirement from public life at the next State Election after a political career spanning two decades.

Ms Giddings, who entered the House of Assembly in 1996 as the youngest woman ever elected to an Australian Parliament, will bow out of politics after a career which saw her serve Tasmania as Premier for three years and Treasurer for four years and – during her time on the Labor front bench – hold the Economic Development, Infrastructure, Health and Human Services, Attorney General and Justice and Arts portfolios.

Ms Giddings said she was looking forward to new opportunities and challenges outside of politics and to leaving the door open for the next generation of Tasmanian politicians.

“I leave as the next generation takes over with Rebecca White leading the Parliamentary Labor Party and new people joining our party room with the recent elections of Josh Willie, Shane Broad and Sarah Lovell.

“The Labor Party is on the rise and I am confident that it will continue to go from strength to strength under Rebecca’s strong leadership.

Ms Giddings said she was proud of her legacy as the state’s first female Premier which saw Tasmania weather the worst of the global financial crisis and emerge as a national leader on important social reform.

“While the current government tries to paint a grim picture of Tasmania’s budget and economic struggles during my government, the fact is it was the tough decisions made at that time, which set the budget up for future years. It was also the policies we implemented to stimulate the economy that saw Tasmania’s economy growing once again prior to the 2014 election.

“And, while we worked hard on jobs and strengthening the economy, we didn’t ignore important social issues, which were affecting Tasmanians. We led the nation in debates like marriage equality and euthanasia, and we apologised to the women who were forced to adopt their babies from birth and to the children who were torn from their mothers,” Ms Giddings said.

“I can look back with great satisfaction that it was a Labor Government which opened important doors for Tasmania in emerging economies like China and Indonesia, while continuing to support our long term relationships with countries like Japan and South Korea.

“Across my career I have never shied away from challenges, leading reform in health, child protection, disabilities, housing and in the law. I am pleased to see many of these reforms are continuing to be built on today.

“I am also proud of the role I played supporting the arts sector in Tasmania. The arts provide a huge cultural and economic benefit to the state. To have been able to support the many festivals across the state, fight for the TSO, help redevelop TMAG, grow our art for public buildings program and support film projects like the Kettering Incident and the Theatre Awards, fills me with tremendous satisfaction.

“Throughout my career and throughout my time as Deputy Premier and Premier, my first priority was that all Tasmanians are always equal, everyone is entitled to fairness and dignity and a fair go. Those are qualities that led to me politics in the first place – Labor qualities – and they are the qualities I will leave politics with still intact.

“It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve the Tasmanian people, it’s been a privilege to work side by side with the Tasmanian community.

“I have made lifelong friends with people in my electorate and beyond. I thank them for being there with me through the tough times and the good times, and I thank all those people in Franklin and Lyons who put their faith in me by electing me to the Parliament.

“I thank the Tasmanian branch of the Australian Labor Party for giving me the opportunity at the age of twenty-two to stand for parliament way back in 1995.

“I thank the many talented and hard-working people who I have worked alongside. I’ve been fortunate to surrounded by wonderful staff over the years both with my ministerial offices but also with the public service.

“I’d have got nowhere in politics if it wasn’t for the volunteers who gave up their time, often on cold and windy days, to help me campaign. Your generosity will never be forgotten.

“And I thank my family for being my strongest supporters and helping me to get started. I could not have achieved all that I did without my mum, my dad and my sister.

“I now look forward to continuing to build my life with my partner and his beautiful children.

“I’m a proud Tasmanian and will remain a proud Tasmanian but it is time to move out of the spotlight. It’s time to leave the door open for the big future the Labor Party has in Tasmania and I do so with no regret.”

Lara Giddings Snapshot

  • Born in Goroka, PNG, in 1972
  • Moved to Tasmania – where family’s history can be traced back to the Midlands and to 1830  – after completing high school in Melbourne in 1990
  • Studied Arts and Law at the University of Tasmania
  • Joined the Labor Party in 1990
  • First elected to the House of Assembly between 1996 and 1998 in Lyons, aged 23
  • Re-elected in Franklin in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014
  • Founding member of Emily’s List, providing financial and mentoring support to progressive Labor women candidates across Australia

Ministerial Career

  • 2004-2006 Minister for Economic Development and the Arts
  • 2006 – 2010 Minister for Health and Human Services
  • 2008 – 2011 Deputy Premier, Attorney General and Minister for Justice
  • 2010 – Minister for Infrastructure and Economic Development
  • 2010 – 2014 Treasurer and Minister for the Arts
  • 2011 – 2014 Premier