GREG Combet has opened up about his health, saying he may not have made it through the next term of Parliament.
Mr Combet, the federal member for Charlton, said his time as climate change minister involved working 18-hour days and seven-day weeks.
"It was extremely stressful," Mr Combet said.
"Getting to sleep was difficult."
Mr Combet, who announced his retirement from politics a few weeks ago, spoke yesterday before a large group of seniors at Toronto Workers Club.
He took the moment to further explain his reason for retiring from politics.
"A lot of people are very disappointed in me for leaving," Mr Combet said.
He wanted people to know his decision was not related to the leadership battle.
"I have a couple of health problems," he said.
He kept details private, but said it "leaves me in quite a lot of discomfort and pain at times".
"I'm not sure I would have made it through next term in Parliament to be frank," he said, adding his illnesses were not life-threatening.
Life in politics was tough on him and his family.
"It took quite a toll," he said.
"It was very rare that I could be in the same place for more than two nights."
His health challenges showed "politicians are human".
Protecting people's rights at work and the carbon tax were key achievements, he told the crowd.
He said the carbon policy had been a success, giving financial incentives to companies to reduce pollution - which was occurring.
He welcomed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's move this week to move from a fixed carbon price to a market-based emissions trading scheme a year earlier than originally planned.
"I wanted to get to an emissions trading scheme as soon as we could," Mr Combet said.
"The change announced this week still has to be legislated and the Coalition and Greens have pledged to oppose it."