Former Oz female minister reveals how sexist premiers ruined her political career

June 13th, 2009 - 3:37 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, June 13 (ANI): Former Australian Labour Party Member Paula Wriedt has claimed that her political life was destroyed due to the level of the sexism and poor understanding of her mental illness shown by two former Aussie premiers.

The late Jim Bacon forced her to resign as education minister because she was pregnant, she says, and David Bartlett sacked her after she tried to take her own life.

For the first time since she quit politics in January, Wriedt spoke about her anger and hurt at being dumped as a minister, despite Bartlett’s assurances he would allow her time to recover from her life-threatening depression, The Australian reports.

Daughter of Ken Wriedt, a Whitlam government minister and former Labor leader in Tasmania, Wriedt, 40, was regarded at one time as a possible future premier.

Her dramatic exit from politics divided Tasmanians, many of whom felt their premier reacted too harshly by sacking her while she was still recovering in hospital.

“Don’t believe anyone who tells you the stigma of mental illness is lessening,” Wriedt says. “It’s not.”

Wriedt shot to national prominence just days before her suicide attempt, when former AFL player Sam Newman made a lewd comment after she appeared on the Nine Network’s The Footy Show.

Then she denied allegations that she had sexually harassed her former lover and driver Ben Chaffey, something she claims Bartlett accepted. But he was not prepared to allow her to stay in her job as economic development and tourism minister while she defended herself, Wriedt claims.

“It was neater for the premier if I resigned rather than him sack me, but one way or another I was going,” the paper quoted him, as saying.

When she found out news of her affair with Chaffey was going to be made public, Tasmania’s youngest female minister, hit acute depression and spent six weeks in a psychiatric clinic, the report adds.

She says the lack of compassion shown by her former ALP colleagues has been a particularly bitter blow: “The silence has been deafening. I guess trying to take your own life when you’re in public office can do that. It would have been more convenient if I’d had cancer.” (ANI)

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