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Monday, January 16, 2006

WA Premier Geoff Gallop Quits

WA Premier Geoff Gallop has resigned less than a year after a convincing win in the WA State Election. He has cited depression as the reason for this dramatic step. He is expected to be replaced by the state's treasurer, Eric Ripper.

The Sydney Morning Herald carries a full text of Mr Gallop's resignation statement. Kim Beazley (himself, of course, a WA native, this afternoon paid tribute to Gallop, concluding that he `leaves our State a far better place than he found it'.

We get used to hearing a lot of complaints about politicians - about how lazy they are, about how many perks they get, how many holidays they take or dinners they attend. But the truth is, I don't think I've met a single one - of any political stripe - who didn't work their rear end off and, more importantly, didn't take their work home with them every night. Representative democracy of the flavour handed down to us by James Madison and his ilk begs a lot of politicians - it asks them to put themselves in the heads of 80,000-odd people and speak for them, argue for them, and above all, not to let them down. It's an enormous burden to have to carry; much more for those in the highest positions of power, who represent not only hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of people, but represent them to the nation.

Ironically, there has recently been a discussion on Crikey (in reaction to this article and its subsequent responses) about the toll politics and activism can take on the mental health of its participants. The strain that has shown on people such as Andrew Bartlett, Nick Sherry, John Brogden, Greg Wilton, and arguably, Mark Latham, is well documented, as is the fact that while some are able to seek help at the right time and overcome their illness, others - tragically - are not.

Geoff Gallop should be congratulated for knowing when to seek help, and knowing where his true priorities lie. In doing so, he may have averted a potential tragedy, or at the very least, a great deal of misery.

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