Lara Giddings has spoken of threats and a stalker during her time in Tasmanian politics, but said she made a decision she would not be afraid.
Ms Giddings, 44, was the first woman to become Tasmanian premier and the youngest elected to Parliament, when she won the seat of Lyons in 1996 aged 23.
Speaking on ABC Radio Hobart a day after announcing she would quit at the 2018 election, Ms Giddings said she had police protection “on a couple of occasions” while in politics.
“I did have some stalker issues at various times and police protection was given to me at least on a couple of occasions because of one particular stalker,” she said.
“In the end it was on the north-west coast which made me a little bit more comfortable about that.
“I had other odd threats against me at other times, but my staff tried to protect me as best as possible from that.”
Ms Giddings said she “had the philosophy … if someone was silly enough to take that out on me, physically there was nothing I was ever going to be able to do to stop that”.
“It’s a fact of life, if you’re a public figure you take some risk with you,” she said.
“But when I thought about that risk I thought it’s really small … and I decided never to worry about it.”
Ms Giddings said even during heated exchanges in public she had not been frightened.
“I fronted rallies, I fronted angry people and I spoke to them. I had them shout in my face,” she said.
“Did I ever feel scared? No.”
Readymade family in waiting
Ms Giddings, who assumed the role of Tasmanian premier in 2011 when David Bartlett stepped down for family reasons, said being in the top job was never her motivation, despite a feeling of “inevitability” she would take on the role.
“I was really hopeful that David might have been able to go another 12 months, but I realised for him, that was a really important decision and at the time he needed to step down, therefore it was important that I stepped up,” she said.
“Being premier is something I’ve never said, ‘oh that’s what I really want, that’s the only reason I’m in politics’. I always just thought I’m on a pathway, whether I liked that pathway or not.
“I just thought the inevitability would be one day I would become premier … and that’s exactly what happened.”
Ms Giddings said she stayed on after Labor’s 2014 defeat as the Member for Franklin “because people of Franklin had voted me in and that’s what I’m going to give them” and because she was one of few in the Labor team with “experience in opposition”.
She refuted the “popular myth” she was walking away with a “massive pension”.
“I’m part of the (former premier) Jim Bacon-era of politicians, where Jim Bacon changed the superannuation laws, so I really go out with nothing until I’m at retirement age alongside every other public servant,” she said.
“I will have to work and I’m looking forward to a career, but I need some long-service leave first!” she said.
Ms Giddings said life after politics was looking brighter due to a new romance blossoming.
“I have met the most beautiful man and he happens to have a pharmacy in Geeveston, so I’m not going to be too far out of Franklin,” she said.
“He brings four beautiful children with him, one of whom is a 22-month-old baby, so I’ve gone from no children to four stepchildren.
“They’re really beautiful kids and I’m looking forward to that part of my life.”
Lara Giddings and Labor leader Rebecca White announcing Ms Giddings would quit politics at the 2018 election. (ABC News: Selina Ross)