MARTIN GILMOUR, Deputy Editor, The Sunday Examiner

Judgement and the high moral ground are precarious positions to hold for extended periods THERE is a lot to be said for knowing when your time is up in public life.
During the week Kangaroos coach Dean Laidley surprised many with his sudden departure but also drew praise for his decisiveness.

One of Laidley’s reasons for going so quickly was a reluctance to “do a Terry Wallace” where the Richmond coach’s departure was tortuous.

During the week Peter Costello announced the end of his 19-year parliamentary career. Australia’s longest-serving treasurer won’t easily be forgotten but he left before his backbench distraction turned into a unlanced boil for the Liberals.

Parliamentary observers ranked Mr Costello as one of the best politicians not to be prime minister. Others said he would be remembered as Australia’s greatest treasurer and for paying off the country’s debt.

If that’s true, the current Treasurer, Wayne Swan, will be remembered somewhat differently.

The actions of another politician in the past fortnight have raised questions about political use-by dates.

Senator Bob Brown has been one of this country’s most influential politicians for two decades.

Love or hate his views, there is no denying that the Australian political landscape has been changed and become more balanced because of his passion for the environment.

But judgement and the high moral ground are precarious positions to hold for extended periods.

Senator Brown’s public appeal for $240,000 earlier this month to help “save” him from potential bankruptcy and disqualification from the Senate simply didn’t wash with most voters.

Senator Brown took on a legal challenge with Forestry Tasmania over protecting the Wielangta Forest and every lawyer will tell you that these types of challenges run the risk of significant costs if you lose.

Where Senator Brown made his political cry-wolf error was claiming that Forestry Tasmania was trying to force him out of the Senate. Senator Brown initiated the legal challenge – Forestry Tasmania was forced to legally defend itself.

Less that 24 hours after making that claim, Senator Brown was happily telling ABC Radio that he would be able to pay the fine and wouldn’t run the risk of losing his Senate seat!

It simply didn’t wash.

Perhaps Senator Brown was so fixated on political martyrdom that he lost sight of the stag beetle.

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