Low-key Giddings crunches a number

PAST a certain age, birthdays can become cause for reflection, rather than celebration.

Last week, Premier Lara Giddings had a party with family and friends to mark her 40th. Today her actual birthday will be low key; a dinner at Parliament with immediate family.

"I think I saw it more of a significant milestone when I turned 39, and that's what I've said to people. I found my 39th birthday hard thinking ... it was like the slippery slope to 40. To the extent that people would ask me, `How old are you?' and I'd say, `40' and then think, No I'm not!" she said.

"I think I've gotten so used to the idea, and comfortable with the idea, of turning 40 it'll be fine; just another birthday."

Ms Giddings was first elected to State Parliament at the age of 23 in 1996. She considers the decision to run for Parliament as the best she's ever made.

She can't name any regrets over the following 16-year career in politics, as she rapidly rose through ministerial ranks to eventually become Premier in January 2011.

Since she replaced David Bartlett in the top job there has been an ongoing fascination about Ms Giddings's single and childless status.

That never surprised her, but at times she has been unhappy about it threatening to overshadow her efforts as Premier.

"It's a natural thing for people to want to know a bit about you and that's why when I became Premier I allowed some of that discussion to happen," she said.

"But I've also said I need to be assessed on my efforts and what I achieve, and not on what my private life is ... as there's a lot more to me than that."

These days, Ms Giddings appears to be more comfortable in her role with a decision to hand over the finance portfolio to Scott Bacon allowing her to spend more time talking up Tasmania.

While much of her focus has been on the budget, jobs and the economy, Ms Giddings defends time spent on social debates on issues like same-sex marriage and an apology over forced adoptions.

"You do have to do both - it's not about doing one and not the other. If you do too much social policy and not enough economic you would be letting Tasmania down, but if you do all economic and no social you would be letting Tasmanians down."

Ms Giddings is clearly looking ahead. But she rejects any notion she has chosen a political career over having a family.

"Not when I look at a number of friends who are in the same age bracket as me and they're not in political careers and they face the same lack of choice," she said. "I wish it was as simple as that, but it's not ... it either happens or it doesn't happen for you."

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