Land that made new Premier

THE father of Tasmania’s new Premier Jeremy Rockliff believes his son’s rural upbringing built a lot of the “solid foundation” he stands upon today.

Rick Rockliff and wife Geraldine, still farm their property in Sassafras that they first moved to more than 50 years ago.

It’s where they raised a family and where the state’s 47th Premier first developed his appetite for politics.

“We’ve always been a politically active family, we’d often discuss issues of the day together, and Jeremy has always had that strong interest in politics,” Mr Rockliff said.

A young Jeremy on their Sassafras farm

Like his father years before him, a young Jeremy Rockliff attended Lincoln University in New Zealand to study agriculture.

But it was on a leadership camp he joined soon after his return to the country that he began to hone his interests.

“When Jeremy went to this leadership camp, after his time at Lincoln, he first listed his ambitions to become Minister of Agriculture, and sure enough, with his enthusiasm, that came true,” Mr Rockliff said.
“He’s always been very passionate about agriculture and farming right from the start, I was almost sad to hear he was going into politics he was looking so capable to take over the farm.”

Rick Rockliff is well known in the Tasmanian farming community, particularly from his time at Tasmanian Alkaloids during its developmental stages.

As a passionate primary producer, he created the “Big Spud” on the Bass Highway at Sassafras initially to promote a roadside stall.

It became a popular tourist attraction in its own right.

Mr Rockliff Snr is also no stranger to politics having served as a councillor and as deputy mayor of Latrobe for many years.

More recently he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his service to the community.

He believes his son’s rural upbringing has given him an appreciation for hard work.

“He knows what hard work is, as most rural kids do, but I was always careful to not give him the boring jobs when he was young, to not put him off farming entirely.
“Farming gives you a good solid foundation for a lot of decision making, you’re dealing with day-to-day issues, you can make the right decision in the afternoon, and it becomes the wrong decision in the morning.
“You learn to take that all in your stride, Jeremy has a lot of common sense, I think it’s a very important attribute in politics these days.

“We’re extremely proud of him.”