By Jeremy Sollars
Local State Member for Southern Downs James Lister MP has released a statement advising he will be taking two months’ medical leave from his duties to address his mental health treatment.
In a moving and courageous statement given in Queensland Parliament earlier today – Thursday 25 March – Mr Lister asked the residents of his electorate, which includes the Warwick and Stanthorpe areas, for understanding during this period and vowed to be “back stronger and better than ever”.
As a sitting MP Mr Lister is formally required to give notice of his request for leave to the Speaker of Parliament, including for the next nine parliamentary sitting days. The following are Mr Lister’s full remarks in Parliament today –
“In February this year my doctor and I, together with my wife, Belinda, made the decision that I needed a change in treatment for my mental health.
“Over the years I have been progressively worn down, I have become upset with the past and life, work and keeping up appearances has become increasingly difficult. So I need to be away from my duties for the next two months to get better.
“I know that honourable members and my community would forgive me for not being specific about my situation, but I did not want to play it that way. Elizabeth Gaskell said that ‘an evil, once being recognised, is halfway on towards its remedy’.
“Publicly acknowledging the truth, and accepting treatment and help, will:
• help me to be the best dad and husband that I can be
• it will help me to be the best representative of Southern Downs that I can be, and
• it will set the right example because, as a military and now community leader, I have always advocated that we should be open about mental health issues and that we should not be afraid to seek support and help.
“I served for 17 years in the Australian Defence Force. Whilst my difficulties do stem from that period, I want to put on record that the military treated me very well and gave me excellent help and medical treatment. I continue to receive excellent treatment now from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs which I am most grateful for.
“I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition, David Crisafulli, for the support and encouragement that he has given me over the past month and also all members on all sides of the House for the warmth and support that they have offered me when I have discussed my issues.
“I should particularly thank the member for Hinchinbrook for the truly heroic man hug that he gave me when I talked about my issues at breakfast on Tuesday morning. Thank you very much, Nick.
“My offices in Warwick and Stanthorpe will continue to operate normal hours to assist my constituents in my absence. I thank the people of Southern Downs for their understanding. I will be back stronger and better than ever and I will not be making further comment until I get back to parliament.”