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Nick Minchin, one of the Senators for South Australia and the leader of the Opposition in the Senate has retired today in a surprise decision. It was apparently sparked by a bout of reflection after his son was tragically injured in a boating accident. As someone who has been reflecting about the purpose and direction of my own life, I can only imagine what it must be like for Minchin who is giving up one of the safest jobs in the world (and certainly one of the most interesting) for something else. I think its a testament to the genuineness of Minchin’s grief that neither the Herald nor the Australian cast any doubt upon his explanation.

Minchin is one of those rare sorts in politics – an intellectual and a believer, but also a man who got things done. Amongst those on the Right, Minchin is considered one of the only purist libertarians on the Liberal benches. He’ll be remembered in recent times as the man who destroyed Turnbull (a hero of mine) and replaced him with Abbott “just” because of the Emissions Trading Scheme. Disagree with him though I may, I think this episode shows the steel behind Minchin’s beliefs and his willingness to bend practicality to suit his beliefs… and then turn it into an advantage for the Liberals.

But Minchin also has a long track record as Finance Minister and Leader of the Senate, though one that is seldom known. I personally only became aware of him a year or two ago, because he’s never been one who sought the spotlight. I’m sure he’s had his share of factional wars, but he doesn’t seem to have let it damage the party (until Abbott). Indeed, its stunning that as Finance Minister he never tried to claim any credit for the economic prosperity that the Liberal government brought Australia. The ALP could really learn a lot from Minchin. Hint hint. As Finance Minister, I believe he was responsible for at least part of the sale of Telstra (at least T3). As leader of the Senate, he mercilessly wielded the guillotine during the waning years of the Howard government when they held a Senate majority.

I can’t say I agreed with much of what Minchin did, but he was certainly one of the few Senators whose name sticks out in my mind. I sincerely wish him good luck on whatever path he takes.

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