SENIOR Labor figures who worked to bring down two prime ministers should take responsibility for their part in the party's huge federal election defeat, says veteran Tasmanian MHR Dick Adams.
``We changed leaders too much - we talked about ourselves too much,'' Mr Adams said this week.
``You can't do those things and expect people to have confidence in you.''
The former Lyons representative was talking as he packed up 20 years of federal political life after being defeated by Liberal candidate Eric Hutchinson in a 14 per cent swing against him at the September 7 election.
The 20 years had come after three years as a state parliamentarian including a ministry in lands, national parks, aged persons and community welfare.
Mr Adams was one of a rare breed of federal parliamentarians.
``The average in Canberra is seven years,'' he said.
``To do 20 years, to weather the storms over that time of political uncertainty and changes is unusual.''
Mr Adams believed that he lasted the two decades because he worked hard at understanding his electorate.
``Early in my career I worked hard at determining what electorates needed,'' he said.
``We worked out small town policies, which gave us the basis to work on policy generally.''
He believes that issues largely outside his control brought about his first federal election loss.
``Forestry was one,'' he said.
``People were wanting to go back to being pretty angry about the agreement [forestry intergovernmental agreement] even though industry was a part of it.
``There were people who wouldn't accept that any change was taking place even though forestry was going through change well before it [the agreement negotiations] all started.
``I fought for forestry issues and some people thought that I wasn't delivering going back to where they wanted to be,'' he said.
He said that local governments had also been disappointed that they hadn't received anticipated financial windfalls to make up for forestry job losses.
``But it was all about trying to use that money for economic drivers for industries that were taking us into new direction - tourism and agriculture, aquaculture,'' he said.
``Our challenge is to link tourism and food - that's what the future is.
``You can't just manufacture economic activity - that comes from innovation and in today's world, science, ideas, whatever.
``Aquaculture is a science-based industry that has a whole level of people from degree-based people to certificate 2 people working in the industry - that's what we want.''
It wasn't the minority government at federal level that worked against Labor politicians in country electorates fighting to keep their seats at the election, Mr Adams said.
``At federal level it worked well,'' he said.
``That was because of the capacity of [independents] Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott and the negotiating skills of Julia Gillard.''
He said people turned against Labor more because of the federal leadership fights
Those responsible had still not shouldered responsibility for the turmoil they had caused, he said.
It was questionable whether ousting Julia Gillard in favour of Kevin Rudd on the eve of the election campaign had helped the party, Mr Adams said.
``That occurred and Queensland was saved - I heard what Kevin Rudd said but that wasn't much solace for those of us in Tasmania who lost our seats.''
Mr Adams said that he didn't think it was a good idea for past party leaders to remain in caucus.
It was up to Mr Rudd to make the decision to leave.
He finds the new style of Labor leadership election ``interesting.''
``It's a way of giving everybody with party membership a vote,'' he said.
He hasn't made up his mind yet whether he will vote - from outside the federal Labor inner sanctum - for Bill Shorten or Anthony Albanese.
And he has not yet decided whether his political career is over for ever.
``You never say never - I'm still in my early 60s and feel good about that,'' he said.