POLITICS

Former Tasmanian Premier Reveals Stalking, Threats In Office

'It's a fact of life, if you're a public figure.'

15/05/2017 1:07 PM AEST | Updated 15/05/2017 1:10 PM AEST
Fairfax Media

Lara Giddings, the first female premier of Tasmania, has revealed she endured stalking and threats during her time in political office.

Giddings, 44, announced her retirement from politics over the weekend. She entered state politics at age 23, becoming the youngest person to hold an Australian political office when she won the seat of Lyons in 1996, and was Tasmania's premier from 2011 to 2014.

On Monday, speaking to ABC Radio Hobart, Giddings said she had been subjected to threats and stalkers through her career.

"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.

Giddings said political figures assumed some degree of risk by the very virtue of their career, and said she was forced to accept the risk as part of her job.

"It's a fact of life, if you're a public figure you take some risk with you," she said, adding "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".

"But when I thought about that risk I thought it's really small ... and I decided never to worry about it."

Giddings' comments echoed those made by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard last October.

Gillard, the nation's first female PM, spoke in London in memory of British MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed last year, and spoke bluntly about how women in positions of prominence or power are treated.

"[Critics] have the power to fire barbs directly at their targets without any fear of consequence. At best, these can be snarky and occasionally witty criticisms of a politician's decisions or actions. At worst, they can take the form of detailed death threats, or threats of violence against family, friends and staff," Gillard said.

"And of course, as a woman in public life, the violent threats take on another sickening dimension. Threats of violent abuse, of rape, are far too common. A woman in public view may expect to receive them almost daily."

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