By Darren Stones
The 2010 Federal Election has given Independent MP Bob Katter the opportunity to put an important issue into the public domain – suicide. Whilst the majority of discussion surrounds which major party the Independents will side with, Katter has taken the bull by the horns and is the only elected representative in the spotlight willing to mention an issue which many people are reticent to discuss.
With Katter constantly being referred to as a ‘loony’ on Twitter, and in comments by readers in various online newspapers, it’s his ability to get the message out at an opportune time that is worthy of credit.
Katter has said that one farmer commits suicide every four days in his electorate of Kennedy. The sense of despair felt by those farmers who are taking such drastic action is not to be ignored. These are real working people from real working families who see no future for themselves. They are people who see no reason to live and cast a vote in the future.
Mental health has been in the spotlight during 2010, but Australia's political leaders became more concerned with the non-issue of Work Choices and stopping the boats during the election campaign.
It will be interesting to see if the leaders from each of the major parties act on what Katter is saying, or simply dismiss him as a ‘loony’. Time will tell if Katter’s comments lead to a paradigm shift.