The Honourable Peter Gutwein: Out and About
It’s no mean feat to stay in favour with your electorate when you’re a pollie during a global pandemic, but it sounds almost unfathomable to be recognised as arguably Australia’s most popular political leader in history right at the peak of Australia’s Covid pandemic.
Yet, incredibly, that’s exactly where The Honourable Peter Gutwein found himself. He led Tasmania through some of the nation’s darkest days as State Premier and Treasurer over the past few years, after recording the highest ever recorded satisfaction rating of 90% in a Newspoll in 2020.
How did he achieve such sweeping approval during one of the most challenging periods we have ever faced as a nation? While cases were climbing exponentially across Australia, this no-nonsense leader ensured that the State was not only one of the safest places in the country (and indeed the world!), but one of the strongest performing economies.
At the start of the pandemic, Peter Gutwein was the first Premier to ban cruise ships in the wake of the Ruby Princess disaster and, despite intense national criticism and threats of legal action, he led the country in closing the State’s borders before any other jurisdiction to keep the island populace safe. A leader of unparalleled strength and vision, Gutwein pre-empted the need to set Tasmania up to be well positioned financially to weather the pandemic after rebuilding the State’s economy in the wake of the 2012-13 recession. At the time of his stepping down Tasmania led the Commsec State of the States economic rankings (just as it had for the last nine quarters in a row!) with the best performing economy in the country.
However, it’s not all about the economy and finances for Gutwein. As the State’s first Premier to also hold the Climate Change portfolio, Tasmania achieved the extraordinary goal of being able to generate 100% of its energy needs from renewable sources and he introduced legislation to set the State a target of net zero by 2030. As Tourism Minister, he set the ambitious goal of being a carbon neutral destination by 2025 and he delivered new opportunities through sports tourism by establishing the State’s first NBL team in 25 years, securing the holy grail of test cricket – an Ashes test for the State – and firmly placed the State on a path to achieving its own AFL Team.
After holding the seat of Bass for 20 years, successfully reopening the States borders and delivering a strong economy and record jobs growth, Gutwein sensationally bowed out of politics at the height of his popularity in April 2022 to spend more time with his family, saying “I’ve spent the last two years looking after everyone else’s family, I now want to spend some time with my own”.
While there are many voters who are sad to see him go, the silver lining is that Peter now has time to share his immensurate wisdom and knowledge as a charismatic speaker and educator. Naturally, Gutwein has a wealth of knowledge to share – not only about Australian politics, successful strategy and planning, and engaging with government – but also about what we can learn from the pandemic, and more importantly, how to prepare for what comes next. He’s eager to share his learnings from Tasmania’s extraordinary environmental achievements, and has a wealth of useful insights up his sleeve when it comes to the future of sustainable tourism and how to get in front of the curve.
The Honourable Peter Gutwein led Tasmania through the Covid pandemic with compassion, intelligence and integrity, and he engages audiences time and time again with the same inspiring zeal. The financial architect behind the fastest growing economy in the nation and someone who calls it as he sees it, Gutwein has so much to share about everything from wellbeing, climate change and environment, to law, economy and finance. His deep insight into leading with conviction and compassion when there is no rule book is sure to move and inspire any audience. He may have retired from politics to spend more time with his family, but he’s made sure to leave some time aside to pass everything he has learnt over the decades on to all of us!