The leadership of the federal Labor Party abandoned Victorian MP Greg Wilton in the days before his suicide five years ago, his sister said today.
Leeanda Wilton today publicly backed Mark Latham over his claims last week that a toxic political environment inside the ALP contributed to Mr Wilton’s death in June 2000.
Mr Latham said Mr Beazley made no effort to comfort Mr Wilton, who was struggling with personal problems and a marriage break-up, and that Labor powerbroker Stephen Conroy shared the blame.
Mr Beazley and Senator Conroy have both rejected the claims.
Mr Wilton lived with his sister in the last couple of months of his life.
Three weeks before his death, Mr Wilton, 44, had been found in a distressed state with his two children in a national park near Geelong.
Ms Wilton said the one thing her brother was hanging on to was the thought of retaining his seat of Isaacs.
She said he was devastated when Mr Beazley, then the leader of the party, made no attempt to contact him and the final blow was a newspaper article published the day he died.
“Really it was the upper levels of the party that failed Greg completely,” Ms Wilton told ABC Radio in Melbourne today.
“He was devastated that Kim Beazley made no attempt to contact him, he said it to me so many times, you know: ‘Gee, I would have thought Beazley would have contacted me by now, I still haven’t heard from Beazley’,” she said.
“The final straw was undoubtedly the article in the newspaper on the day that he did take his life.
“The allegations are from Mark Latham, and it was what I was told at the time, not only from Mark Latham but from other federal Labor politicians as well, was that Stephen Conroy had worked to put that article in the newspaper.
“The last words that Greg said, he rang me when he was about to take his life … were about his so-called ‘mates’ in the ALP desperately trying to take his job off him,” she said.
“So we know that that was the factor that tipped him over the edge on that particular day.”
“They did abandon him.”
Ms Wilton said while Mr Wilton had problems, the Labor Party leadership forgot he was a human being.
She said the one person who had continued to offer support to her family was Mr Latham.
“I’m not using (this) as payback. The reason I rang in (to the program) was because I was really concerned late last week that in fact that it was Mr Latham who was being pilloried over all of these sorts of issues,” she said.
“And in fact it’s Mark Latham that’s the only one that’s shown any decency through all of this.
“The issue is, I think, the truth needs to be told and I am someone who knows the truth in this particular matter … and the truth was not being told last week.”
Those needing assistance can reach Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251 or Lifeline on 131 114.
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