MP David Gibson
MP David Gibson

Gibson shoots messenger rather than Newman

GYMPIE MP David Gibson has attempted to blame The Gympie Times in State Parliament this week for an allegedly discriminatory comment on mental health.

The comment, quoted in the paper on June 7, was actually made by Mr Gibson's political leader, Premier Campbell Newman, and did not reflect the attitude of The Gympie Times.

Mr Gibson referred to a front page headline, "Damaged", a word Mr Newman used to discredit allegations by Mr Gibson against two LNP members believed to have been involved in the destruction of Mr Gibson's career.

In a speech about his then-recent nervous breakdown, Mr Gibson alleged being threatened by former supporter and Gympie police officer Llew O'Brien, also an LNP member.

Mr Gibson said Sgt O'Brien, in affirming his LNP loyalty, claimed to have "delivered death threats on behalf of the party".

It was this allegation that prompted the Premier's outburst, then quoted in The Gympie Times.

Mr Newman was having a hard time on the campaign trail for the Stafford by-election (in which the LNP was soundly defeated), when reporters caught up with him to seek his reaction the following day.

Apparently caught off-guard, Mr Newman described Mr Gibson as "very fragile" and "clearly a very damaged individual".

The words were reported all over Australia by news agency AAP.

But Mr Gibson presented a very different version of events when he spoke in Parliament on Tuesday in recognition of Mental Health Week.

Referring to The Gympie Times, he said members could "imagine my horror to see the headline in my local paper that weekend which read, 'Damaged', with a photo of me.

"That front page caused me to feel stress and anxiety all over again as well as face the stigma that is associated with having a mental illness.

"Mental illnesses should be reported in the same way as a physical illness," Mr Gibson said.

"We would not describe someone with high blood pressure or cancer as being damaged and nor should we for people experiencing anxiety, depression or any other mental health condition."

Continuing to blame this newspaper for Mr Newman's comment, he said: "In regional centres, such as Gympie, as well as in cities across Australia, the local media influences the way we think, shaping our beliefs and our reactions to issues".