See change?

July 31st, 2011

‘Sea Change’ was a popular Aussie TV series a few years back, in which a city lawyer quit her job and opted for the supposedly more laid-back life of a small coastal town. The term ‘sea change” became common usage to describe the increasing number of people who decided to leave the rat race and the wealth it provided and give greater emphasis in their life to more personal values.

In an interesting set of articles, last Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald told the stories of a bunch of influential politicians who have found life more fulfilling away from the corridors of power.

Some jumped ….

Reba Meagher was a stereotypical Labor party career politician – student politician, Young Labor heavy, union organiser, local member imposed on an electorate, Minister – when she unexpectedly quit, finding the power struggles and infighting too much. She now works for a Catholic charity.

Graham West quit as NSW Minister for Juvenile Justice a year ago for various reasons, including his feeling that he could accomplish more for social justice outside of politics than as a Minister. He now works for the Catholic St Vincent de Paul charity.

John Della Bosca was a powerful but controversial figure in the NSW Labor party who fell into disfavour after a number of lapses. He quit to take on a position of campaign director for the National Disability insurance scheme, and enjoys working without the compromises of politics.

Deputy Premier John Watkins quit to take up a senior position with non-profit organisation ‘Alzheimer’s Australia’ while senior minister Andrew Refshauge is now on the boards of several non-profits.

Stephen O’Doherty was a shadow minister for the conservative opposition when he realised he was not going to be able to achieve his education goals in politics. He left politics, overcame depression, and subsequently formed the support group ‘Christian Schools Australia’.

Others were pushed

Verity Firth was a minister when she lost her seat in a landslide which saw the Labor government decimated. She chose to work for the Public Education Foundation, which supplies scholarships for needy children.

Guy Yeomans had been a Liberal party minister, but lost his preselection in party factional infighting. A christian who saw his role in politics as a mission from God (not quite like the Blues Brothers!), he suffered a temporary loss of faith before becoming a Baptist minister.

Different priorities

All these politicians have generous pensions, but most could have followed other colleagues in using their political connections to get a senior position in the private sector. Somehow, it seems they are happier and more fulfilled as they are – more ‘proof’ that happiness is more often found in working for a cause than amassing wealth – see What makes people happy?

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