Here are some of my thoughts about Andrew Herington.
I first knew Andrew before I became very politically active in the ALP. He was a visitor to a house of ten people I lived in at Fitzroy which was made up of mostly ex- Monash Uni people. He was a close friend to Stephanie Bunbury who lived in the house. He had a big crop of curly hair in those days. He did have a slightly hippy/environmentalist look to him as a younger man. Perhaps more than slightly.
When I later became more active within the ALP, initially on the Justice Policy committee, if you wanted to put forward a policy for state conference and had not reached an agreement with the responsible Minister’s Office, you’d usually end up talking to Andrew. He’d try and negotiate your proposal through with you. He ended up writing a fair proportion of the platform that went to State Conference. Most political advisors did not go to the conference as it was not part of their job or because they were not particularly involved in the Party. But Andrew was always there keeping an eye on things. He was a party activist as well as a political adviser.
Later I worked with Andrew in the Premier’s Private Office (PPO).
An important thing about Andrew was his immense experience and “corporate” knowledge. He had easily the most untidy office in the PPO. Folders and pages everywhere. Yet inside his head lay an ordered if teeming policy brain- his true filing cabinet.
If you had a policy idea, and you discussed it with Andrew, much of the time, he would recall something that had happened within the government that was relevant to your idea. And he’d tell you what happened with it.
If you had a disagreement, Andrew was capable of having a slight sulk. Not everyone I know found him easy to work with. But I did. I remember we did not agree on the location for a second women’s prison. But the thing you needed to understand about Andrew was that any slight sulk was due to his passion for policy. And in any event, I knew that the next day he would be over it and be up for the next discussion.
He has been described as an iconoclast. He had that side to him. But he could also be quite cautious politically- realistic about the electorate. He certainly knew that in politics both compromise and disappointment were a substantial part of the deal.
I remember discussing climate change with him. This was before the election of the Gillard Government. I said I thought a simple price on carbon was a better policy than an emissions trading scheme which would increase complexity, be a magnet for speculators, and because offsets are too hard to measure. But Andrew said straight off that the Tories would call such a price a “tax” and would use that to destroy Labor if it went in that direction. History proved him correct.
When John Brumby became premier, after Steve Bracks resigned, Andrew eventually took on a different role and was less directly involved in the platform and the election policy. In my opinion, the Brumby government probably needed another major policy announcement in the week or two before the election. I think if Andrew had still been in his previous role, he might well have insisted on that.
In the last three years, Misch and I have gone away to Aries Inlet with Lyn Malone, Stephanie Bunbury, Andrea Krellie, and Jenny Darling. Andrew stayed with us or visited us and for the first time, I met Clarice. Andrew would know all the bush walks.
Andrew would also sometimes make it to the monthly lunches (well more sporadic than monthly) organized by Bill Forrest. We’d discuss any old thing. But quite often the discussion would turn to politics. I’d always be interested to hear Andrew’s view.
I don’t think Andrew ever completely retired for any substantial period. I doubt he fancied that idea in the slightest. At least he escaped that fate. Wanting to influence the outcome of things in the world through politics was so central to his identity.
We will all miss him.