Male suicide is two and a half times more likely in remote Queensland than in our cities. Last week Mental Health Minister Mark Butler released the Suicide in Rural and Remote Areas of Australia report, which studies suicide in detail but offers precious few solutions.
It is yet another document launch from a federal government with a patchy record in both rural health and mental health policy.
Mental heath is the challenge of our generation. It costs Australia around $6 billion annually, with the bush bearing more than its fair share. The Government doesn’t even have a regional health portfolio. That leaves the Coalition to doggedly pursue Labor to maintain any focus on mental or rural health.
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Every cigarette might be doing you damage but over the past few years it hasn’t been hurting Treasury. Smoking was already a ludicrously expensive pursuit by world standards in this country before the straight-laced uber-nerd Kevin Rudd and his nanny-in-chief Nicola Roxon were elected at the end of 2007.
By the beginning of last year, barely two years into Rudd’s brief and clean-living reign as prime minister, the price of a packet of smokes had jumped by more than one-third, with a one-off 25 per cent increase last February adding another $2.16 to a packet of 30 cigarettes.
Smokers fume, splutter and wheeze indignantly about this price-gouging and in my darker moments at the 7-11 as I empty the ATM to fuel my habit, I’ve often found myself among their number. No-one else cares of course. When it comes to public sympathy, smokers are on a hiding to nothing asking for understanding.
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