Mark
Latham has made much of the suicide of Greg Wilton, using it as an
example of the treachery and poison in the ALP. It was obviously an
event that affected him deeply, as it did many people in the ALP at
that time. But Latham, like the media retelling his side of the story,
is not telling you the full story.

Wilton was a little-known
backbencher elected against the anti-Labor landslide in 1996. Until the
tragic events surrounding his suicide in 2000, Crikey noted Wilton had
not generated a single mention in the News Ltd archive.

Latham
blames speculation suggesting Wilton would lose his pre-selection for
tipping Wilton over the edge – but doesn’t tell you what prompted that
speculation. After Wilton’s marriage broke down in early 2000, he was
found by police, distressed, in a car with his two young children in an
isolated forest in the You Yangs near Geelong.

We will never
know if Wilton would have killed his children along with himself had he
not been found that night. Friends, family and fellow MPs all insist he
would not have done so, and Kelvin Thomson says Wilton assured him he
would never have harmed his children. But the fact he took them into
that forest with him at that time indicates that such a terrible course
of action was at least on his mind, and once news of the incident
broke, his political career was finished. There was no way the ALP
could have again pre-selected him.

The Sunday Herald Sun
ran the headline “Federal MP Arrested,” and the incident was widely
reported as an attempted murder suicide. A short time later, after
spending a fortnight in psychiatric care, Wilton gassed himself in his
car in another isolated park.

The death of Greg Wilton was an
appalling tragedy, and it may well have been the speculation about the
loss of his pre-selection that caused him to finally take his own life.
But it was the break-up of his marriage, and his own actions in taking
his children with him that night, that were the direct cause of that
speculation.

As John Faulkner correctly noted, when launching
Bob Carr’s diaries “everyone knows diaries are full of cr*p.” What is
sad is that news media, in the rush to promote exclusives, are so
incompetent, or dishonest, they don’t bother to point this out.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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