Lindsay Tanner in Conversation with George Megalogenis

The former Finance Minister, Lindsay Tanner, in a rare public appearance since his retirement from politics, has discussed recent political events.

Tanner was appearing at the Wheeler Centre with George Megalogenis, author of the latest Quarterly Essay, Trivial Pursuit.

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Lindsay Tanner Announces His Retirement

A history-making day in Australian politics has produced another unexpected turn of events with Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner announcing that he will retire from politics at the forthcoming election.

The announcement came at the end of new Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s first Question Time in the House of Representatives.

Tanner said he had approached former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a couple of weeks ago and indicated he would not contest the election. He said the decision “is driven entirely and absolutely by matters of personal circumstances”.

Tanner was elected as the member for Melbourne at the 1993 election. He has served in six parliaments.

Hansard transcript of Lindsay Tanner’s statement to the House of Representatives.

Mr TANNER (Minister for Finance and Deregulation) (3:15 PM) —On indulgence, I rise to advise the House that I will not be contesting the forthcoming federal election. I just wish to outline some of the reasoning behind my decision. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with the then Prime Minister indicating that it was my intention not contest the coming election. He asked me to delay consideration of this decision, indeed to reconsider. He indicated that he wanted me to stay on as a minister even if I did choose to step down. I concurred with his request and we agreed that we would revisit the matter at the end of the parliamentary sitting period. In fact, we had an appointment scheduled for 9.30 this morning to consider this matter. As you all know, by one of those strange quirks of fate that tend to occur in politics, other matters intervened. So I found myself doing what I expected to do—namely, confirming my intention not to recontest the election—slightly later in the day to a different Prime Minister, the incoming Prime Minister. I am now formally advising the House of my decision. I have indicated to the incoming Prime Minister that I am equally happy to continue serving in my current ministerial position until the election or to step aside without demur should she choose to ask me to do so. [Read more...]


Rudd Launches Broadband Policy; Abandons Opposition To Telstra Sale

The Opposition Leader, Kevin Rudd, has announced an election policy which commits the ALP to investing up to $4.7 billion in partnership with the private sector to build a broadband service which will cover 98 per cent of the population and deliver speeds forty times faster than currently available.

Describing the policy as a contribution to “nation building for the future”, Rudd said a commitment to broadband infrastructure was on a par with the commitment to railway construction in the nineteenth century.

Rudd said the policy would be funded with $2 billion from the existing communications fund with the remainder to be taken from the Future Fund’s 17 per cent share of Telstra. This proposal led to a savage response from the Treasurer, Peter Costello, in Question Time.

The Shadow Minister for Finance, Lindsay Tanner, said the ALP now accepted that it had lost the fight to retain Telstra in public ownership and is now “absolutely committed to building the broadband network of the future”. [Read more...]


Labor’s 2001 Capitulation Should Be Forgiven, But Not Forgotten: Tanner

The ALP’s Shadow Minister for Communications, Lindsay Tanner, has called for Labor to revive “idealism” and “to restore definition to Labor’s identity.”

Delivering the Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture, named in honour of the former ALP leader who held Tanner’s electorate of Melbourne between 1940-72, Tanner said: “Labor’s capitulation to the tactics of group vilification and racial discrimination in 2001 may be forgiven, but should not be forgotten. We can’t fight that battle again, but we can learn from this terrible episode. We must never again allow ourselves to be forced to jettison our fundamental values in pursuit of political survival.”

This is the text of Lindsay Tanner’s Arthur Calwell Memorial Lecture.

Lindsay Tanner, Shadow Minister for CommunicationsTonight we honour the memory of a man of courage and compassion, a great Labor leader, Arthur Calwell. Few Australian political leaders have influenced the shape of our modern society more. Few have received less credit from history for such a major contribution.

The Australia that Arthur Calwell knew when he entered Parliament was a profoundly different place from the one we know now. In those days being anything but Anglo-Irish was a matter for curiosity and suspicion. Arthur Calwell had the heart and imagination to see the part Australia could play in relieving the suffering of millions of European refugees. He had a vision for a stronger and more vibrant nation. He imagined a bigger and better country, and played a vital role in bringing it into being. [Read more...]