SALLY GLAETZER Mercury, Saturday

PAULA Wriedt has broken her silence to accuse her former Cabinet colleagues of turning their backs on her.
More than 10 months after her suicide attempt, Ms Wriedt has spoken out against Premier David Bartlett and her parliamentary Labor colleagues, saying they showed a complete lack of understanding of mental illness.

In a wide-ranging interview in the Weekend Australian Magazine today, Ms Wriedt says she would have been treated very differently by government members had she suffered any illness other than depression.

The former minister says the silence from her colleagues since she attempted to take her life last August has been “deafening”.

Ms Wriedt also reveals she was forced to resign as Education Minister in 2001 by then premier Jim Bacon when she became pregnant for the second time within two years.

She said: “Jim was publicly supportive with this second pregnancy, but privately he didn’t want me to have a second lot of leave, he thought it was inappropriate. So he forced me to resign from the ministry.”

Former premier Paul Lennon backed up her story and said he was aware of her forced resignation.

In the interview with Melbourne journalist Julie-Anne Davies, Ms Wriedt says she will return to public life as an ambassador for national depression initiative Beyondblue.

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FORMER Tasmanian frontbencher Paula Wriedt claims her treatment by two Labor premiers shows the level of sexism and poor understanding of mental illness in political life.

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.

In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian Magazine, Ms Wriedt has spoken for the first time since she quit politics in January about her anger and hurt at being dumped as a minister, despite Mr Bartlett’s assurances he would allow her time to recover from her life-threatening depression.

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