Meanwhile, former treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who lost his seat of Kooyong to teal independent Monique Ryan, is setting up a consultancy business, taking an office in the high-end Como Centre in South Yarra.
Gladys Liu, who lost the eastern suburbs seat of Chisholm to Labor’s Carina Garland, is contemplating a tilt at state politics, possibly in the Upper House.
The Sunday Age and The Sun-Herald spoke to a number of former MPs who faced similar circumstances, losing their seat in a climate where their political opponents form government.
“In the days that follow, you are really in a political version of the ICU,” said one former MP who lost his seat and declined to be named. “There is not a lot you can do to ease the pain of what happened.”
Clem Newton-Brown, who lost his state seat of Prahran in 2014 to the Greens in the election that swept Daniel Andrews’ Labor government to power, now has a completely different career.
“You have to believe you can win to campaign effectively, so you do hit a brick wall and fall off a cliff when you actually lose your seat. There is definitely life after politics, but you need to quickly move on from the all-consuming work in parliament and develop a plan B,” he said.
For Newton-Brown, plan B was using his skills in planning, community engagement and public policy to launch a whole new industry – his Skyportz electric air taxi business. It requires a new regulatory system and infrastructure.
“I have found my niche working with regulators, government bureaucrats, air regulators, aviation consultants and the property industry.”
Newly unemployed, former MPs who entered parliament after the 2004 cut-off to qualify for a parliamentary pension, receive a “resettlement allowance” often, 12 weeks of their basic parliamentary salary.
They must first decide if they want to attempt to seek re-election, which is best served by working for themselves, or walk away from politics altogether.
“You do hit a brick wall and fall off a cliff when you actually lose your seat.”
Clem Newton-Brown, former Victorian MP
Wilson, who before parliament was a policy director at the free-market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, and a human rights commissioner, plans to go hiking in Yosemite National Park with his husband Ryan. He also plans to set up his own climate and energy advisory business, utilising his experience as a junior minister for industry, energy and emissions reduction.
“I’m very open about the journey that I’ve gone through, from foetal position crying on Sunday morning through to seeing a psychologist yesterday,” Wilson told an energy efficiency conference in the week after his electoral defeat.
Allen is already fielding inquiries about board positions and, along with a PhD student, has just had a research paper on infant peanut allergy accepted by The Journal of the American Medical Association.
Frydenberg could well look for inspiration in John Pesutto, who lost his seat of Hawthorn live on ABC television on the night of the Victorian election in 2018.
The former state Liberal shadow attorney-general took up an honorary post in the school of government at the University of Melbourne and kept up a presence in the media, with columns for The Age and slots on ABC Radio and Joy FM, which he did gratis.
To pay the bills, Pesutto, a former commercial lawyer, established his own consultancy firm called Hugo Benice Advisory, offering legal work, and media, government and competition advice. It was months before he got his first client.
The flexibility has allowed Pesutto, who declined to be interviewed for this article, to get back in the political game. He is recontesting the seat of Hawthorn in Victoria’s upcoming election in November.
On the other side, David Bradbury was a federal Labor MP who lost his western Sydney seat of Lindsay after two terms in 2013, when Tony Abbott led the Coalition to power. Bradbury eventually found work overseas at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. He now heads the organisation’s tax policy and statistics division.
“Running for election is like going for a job interview, but you do it in full view of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people,” he said.
“It’s very difficult for someone who was a minister in the former government to ever take on a government appointment, or even a bureaucratic role,” he said.
Bradbury decided after leaving politics that to gain employment and use his skills as a tax lawyer and assistant treasurer, it would be necessary to disconnect from public political commentary.
He advised newly unemployed MPs to take time out before deciding their next steps.
“There’s a really strong sense of uncertainty, particularly if this is something that people have been working towards for a large part of their life but all of a sudden, it is brought to an end.”
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