by Ted Richards

Click to listen to the latest episode of The Richards Report featuring Lindsay Tanner.

The Richards Report reaches the double-digit milestone this week as I speak with former Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner for my 10th episode.

Since retiring from federal politics in 2010, Lindsay has moved into the private sector and serves in many roles, including Chairman of the Essendon Football Club. In my time at Sydney I could see how much time was required in the Chairman position and we discuss how he juggles his different responsibilities.

We discuss the term ‘political malaria’ – once you’ve got the politics bug apparently you never lose it. Lindsay thinks he may have caught political malaria when he was 16 when the Whitlam Government was elected, which makes me think back to what I was up to when I was 16… I certainly didn’t have political malaria! Lindsay remembers watching the Whitlam election win and cheering on. He comes from a family of National Party members so it raised a few eyebrows when Lindsay decided he would enter Australian politics but join the ALP.

Lindsay says that in politics “everyone exaggerates everything all of the time”. Just like in advertising, politicians know that people have only a finite time to engage someone’s attention, and you either make the most of this opportunity or you miss it. Lindsay says that in politics “exaggeration is normal, because to do anything else is deadly.”

We discuss the similarities between football and politics. They’re both intensely competitive industries, but Lindsay suggests that the real competition in politics is with people on your own side (however, I know this is the case in football too as I was dropped quite a few times for a teammate!). When we discuss other differences between football and politics Lindsay is of the opinion that there are far fewer leaks in football. There’s always the odd leak in football, but in politics it’s so prevalent it’s almost considered normal.

After writing seven or eight non-fiction books, Lindsay also recently published a novel called Comfort Zone (available from Booktopia here). Lindsay says that the best book he has ever read is War and Peace (as it’s 1300 pages I’ll take his word on this). He also loves crime fiction, especially writer Luke McCallin’s Man From Berlin series about a German police detective in World War II.

Lindsay’s current roles include a corporate advisory position at Lazard Australia and non-executive director positions at Suncorp and Virgin Australia. Lindsay also sits on the Investment Advisory Committee at Six Park.

Lindsay says he is excited to be involved with Six Park as an up-and-coming business doing great things with a “positive social purpose”. He notes that it’s a happy marriage as it’s a commercial venture that nonetheless produces social good for clients by lowering fees that clients pay. At Six Park we have algorithms and automate a lot of the investment process, but the human overlay of people of the calibre of Lindsay is essential – as he says, “You cannot produce an algorithm for Donald Trump.”

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Published March 15, 2018