MP AD­MITS DARK DAYS

Door-kick­ing MP’s war with drugs, al­co­hol

Herald Sun - - FRONT PAGE - ALEX WHITE

EM­BAT­TLED MP Will Fowles has re­vealed his dark bat­tle with drugs and al­co­hol, say­ing “I have done things that I can’t re­mem­ber”.

In his first ma­jor in­ter­view since his break­down in a Canberra ho­tel that in­volved de­stroy­ing a door, the state MP for Bur­wood said he had been sober for 76 days and was ready to re­turn to parliament next week.

He told the Her­ald Sun he had pri­vately bat­tled men­tal health is­sues for 15 years, in­clud­ing self-med­i­cat­ing.

But his life spi­ralled out of con­trol af­ter be­ing elected as a La­bor MP in Novem­ber last year. “There was a pat­tern of be­hav­iour where clearly there were some prob­lems,” he said.

EM­BAT­TLED MP Will Fowles has re­vealed his dark bat­tle with drugs and al­co­hol, say­ing “I have done things that I can’t re­mem­ber”.

In his first ma­jor in­ter­view since his break­down in a Canberra ho­tel that in­volved de­stroy­ing a door, the state MP for Bur­wood said he had been sober for 76 days and was ready to re­turn to parliament next week.

He told the Her­ald Sun he had pri­vately bat­tled men­tal health is­sues for 15 years, in­clud­ing self-med­i­cat­ing. But his life spi­ralled out of con­trol af­ter be­ing elected as a La­bor MP in Novem­ber last year.

When asked about al­le­ga­tions of il­licit sub­stance use, Mr Fowles de­clined to say what drugs he used.

“There was a pat­tern of be­hav­iour where clearly there were some prob­lems,” he said.

Not re­al­is­ing the ex­tent of his is­sues, Mr Fowles’ world came crash­ing down dur­ing the now in­fa­mous vi­o­lent out­burst at a Canberra ho­tel on July 26.

He was in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal watch­ing the maiden speech of his col­league, new La­bor Se­na­tor Raff Cic­cone.

Mr Fowles’ evening be­gan with cel­e­bra­tory drinks for Se­na­tor Cic­cone, also at­tended by Se­na­tor Penny Wong and MP Ed Hu­sic.

The cel­e­bra­tions moved to an­other venue with some Vic­to­rian La­bor staffers, but from there it is not clear how the night pro­gressed.

At 2am Mr Fowles re­turned to the Abode Ho­tel. At 7.50am he kicked in a door to re­trieve his bag, which had clothes and medicine in it.

“I got to the ho­tel and again the de­tails I don’t par­tic­u­larly want to go over, but I found my­self in a sit­u­a­tion where I was crip­pled by anx­i­ety,” he said.

“I needed my med­i­ca­tion, my clothes … and the ho­tel was un­staffed. I took mat­ters into my own hands. That’s the rea­son, not the ex­cuse.”

The 41-year-old said the mo­ments af­ter the melt­down were among the dark­est of his life as he re­alised the grav­ity of what he had done.

“Sit­ting in that ho­tel room with po­lice there and the re­al­ity set­ting in was hor­ri­ble … the re­al­i­sa­tion crash­ing in about what I had done, what the im­pli­ca­tions were go­ing to be, how re­morse­ful I was, how an­gry I was with my­self, how em­bar­rassed and ashamed I was,” he said.

It was Mr Fowles’ first brush with the law and did not re­sult in any charges. He paid com­pen­sa­tion to the ho­tel owner and apol­o­gised.

Look­ing for­ward, he says “I am 76 days sober and I am tak­ing it one day at the time”, and plans to cam­paign for men­tal health aware­ness.

“Twenty per cent of Aus­tralians have a men­tal health episode in their life and I don’t think politi­cians cer­tainly are im­mune from that, and I think frankly there is some value of politi­cians be­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive of that co­hort,” he said.

Pic­ture: MICHAEL KLEIN.

La­bor MP Will Fowles with his wife Jess and pup Sooty at Wat­tle Park in Bur­wood and (above) the Canberra ho­tel door he kicked in.

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