Friday, June 25, 2010

Tanner departure gives Greens hope in Melbourne

Julie Gillard's replacement of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister almost oer-shadowed the retirement from politics of Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner.

Mr Tanner announced yesterday that he would not contest the next election and made it clear that he had already discuss this with Mr Rudd and was due for final talks on the last sitting day of Parliament yesterday.

He said his decision was for family reasons and unrelated to today's leadership upheaval, and offered to continue to serve in the portfolio or stand down if it suited Julia Gilllard as she prepares to reshuffle the front bench.

Apart from leaving a whole on Labor's front bench, it makes the contest for Mr Tanner's electorate of Melbourne even more interesting as this is one of a few inner city, lower house seats that the Greens have some chance of winning.
They finished second in Melbourne, behind Labor, in the 2007 election and are making the winning of this seat one of their key election goals. This is the first time in any seat in Australia that the Greens have finished second.

Mr Tanner told parliament that his children 'need me more than my country needs me.'
Expressing love for his children has been an issue for Mr Tanner as he has acknowledged that detachment that works well in politics is not so useful at home.

He refers to brutal treatment at while boarding at the Church of England Gippsland Grammar school in country Victoria as a reason for swearing off organised religion, to be an agnostic.

'It was nasty, unfair, erratic, it made me angry then. I was smitten with the unfairness of life,' he said.

'I hated my time there but it did forge my character and the education was excellent. It set the stage for what would become the jumping point into politics.

'I blamed the conservatives, the Church of England, and it pushed me towards the Left.'

Mr Tanner is now particularly careful to give his four children all the love he can. He has Remy, almost 4, and Ainsley, 5, to his third wife Andrea and older kids from his first marriage, James, 12, and Jemma, 15.

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