Three views of a former Premier* ...
Ben Stephenson, 2006
Jon Kudelka, 2008, here
Archibald prize-winner Geoffrey Dyer 2012
The former Labor Premier Paul Lennon is warning Tasmania’s unemployment rate could return to double-digit figures without a major development like a pulp mill.
Mr Lennon returned to Parliament House today after an absence of four years for the unveiling of his official portrait by Tasmanian artist, Geoff Dyer.
He told a ceremony to commemorate his tenure that he regrets leaving politics before the pulp mill project in the Tamar Valley was realised.
“And my goodness don’t we need it now,” he said.
“Back in the period 2006 to 2008, there were many people in Tasmania who thought we didn’t need any more development, we had enough, we were right for the rest of our lives.
“I think we’ve found out different now, that if we’re not careful we’ll be back where we were in 1998 very quickly.”
Mr Lennon says he has a simple message for Tasmanians, and that is to support the development of the pulp mill pioneered by the collapsed timber company Gunns.
*Mr Lennon served as premier from 2004 until 2008, when he resigned abruptly after his preferred premier rating dropped to 17 per cent.
• Examiner: Paul mentored me, says Lara
A portrait of the late Jim Bacon was temporarily moved to make way for the unveiling of the $25,000 artwork. Mr Lennon said he could not help but think of the man who he took over from as premier.
``We achieved a lot together, with our colleagues, and it’s a great honour for me now to be hung here, in this Parliament, forever, near him.’‘
Mr Lennon named three regrets from his time in Parliament: failing to get the pulp mill project up; no new Hobart hospital; and a lack of public housing renewal.
In reflecting on his achievements, he said: ``I was always known in politics for being very pro-development and very strong on economic change, and getting big projects up. But the thing that gave me the most self-satisfaction was actually getting the agreement of the Parliament to get the stolen generation compensation through.’‘
Premier Lara Giddings paid tribute to Mr Lennon, who mentored her during her early days in Parliament.
``(He is a) man who at times comes across as quite gruff, but a man who never actually sought to be premier. He had to step up into those shoes when Jim Bacon had to resign,’’ Ms Giddings said.