Former Federal minister Stephen Smith has ruled out returning to politics to lead the WA Labor Party.
He says that if he could have done the jobs of foreign affairs and defence minister from Perth rather than Canberra, he may not have called time on his 20-year parliamentary career.
"Two hours (time difference to the Eastern States) is manageable but three hours is the most difficult time adjustment to make," Mr Smith said.
"If you're flying from Perth to Washington, at least you have the long-haul trip to make the adjustment. When you fly from Perth to Canberra, you've got no chance."
Since retiring as the Federal member for Perth in September, speculation has swirled that Mr Smith could turn to State politics to replace Mark McGowan as Labor leader.
"Over my 30-year involvement with the WA ALP, people have made that suggestion to me," he said.
"I made my choice about what jurisdiction I wanted to go into a long time ago.
"It's very flattering for some people to say that and write that. But I now regard myself a private citizen and I'm on the cusp of embarking on the next stage of my life - and that is very much as a private citizen."
For our interview in the board- room at city law firm Lavan Legal this week, Mr Smith is wearing a suit for just the sixth time since election night, when on ABC TV he conceded the defeat of Kevin Rudd's Labor government before a vote was even counted.
In the interregnum, he has painted the house, fixed the gutters, done some brick paving and gone to Spain for two weeks - the longest holiday he has taken with wife Jane since the eldest of their two children was born 22 years ago.
He looks relaxed. There is a twinkle in his eye, a vibrancy that was hidden to the public in his life in Federal politics.
He admits to sending the odd text message, often containing "gratuitous advice to old scaly mates such as Swanny (Wayne Swan) or (Stephen) Conroy or some younger turks like Burkey (Tony Burke) or Jason Clare".
"But that's reasonably rare," Mr Smith said. "The most important thing is I've never picked up the paper or said to myself, 'Oh gee, I wish I was still there'."
Mr Smith will not be drawn when asked to reflect on one of the most turbulent periods of Australian political history under prime ministers Rudd and Julia Gillard.
"At some stage I will put out my views about the period we've gone through," he said. "I'm not proposing to do it now. When I do it, it will be on my own terms."
Mr Smith acknowledged that Labor's standing in WA had been badly damaged by the mining tax. Repairing that damage was possible but would take "effort and time".
Mr Smith has joined the board of Hockey Australia, on the condition that he would never attend a board meeting in Canberra.
He has also joined the advisory board of Lavan Legal, a firm with which he feels a strong personal connection, having gone to school and university with its executive chairman of partners Greg Gaunt.
Lavan believes Mr Smith's knowledge of the region will be invaluable in its growth strategy, which will look to Asia.
"A couple of former law and political colleagues said, 'Why would you want to do that with a stand-alone Perth firm when you could probably do the same thing with an international firm with offices in Washington, New York or London?'
"I said, 'That's precisely what I don't feel like doing'.
"Like most people, I have a mortgage to pay. So at some stage in the first half of next year, I've got to do something substantive.
"But I've essentially said to people, tongue-in-cheek, that I'm not proposing to think or strike a blow in anger until the first working Monday after Australia Day."
'I've never picked up the paper or said to myself, "Oh gee, I wish I was still there".'" *Stephen Smith *