Oh no, there goes the voice again



OUTSPOKEN Rockhampton politician Robert Schwarten is slowly being silenced.

The Member for Rockhampton ? well known for his tongue-lashings ? is once again suffering from damage to his voice box.

Mr Schwarten's usual booming voice is now weak, gravelly and clearly frustrating for the self-confessed yapper.

"It's not life-threatening, but it is frustrating. It really impacts on my ability to do my job.''

Mr Schwarten said he prided himself on returning all his phone calls but was now forced to cut down for fear of losing his voice.

"I've lost my voice a couple of times. It's just cut out all together,'' Mr Schwarten said.

"All I can do is write down what I'm thinking.''

It's the second time Mr Schwarten, also Minister for Public Works, Housing and Racing, has been let down by his voice.

In September, 2003, he underwent surgery to remove granuloma (a growth which causes sporadic loss of tenor voice and is caused by gastric reflux) from his damaged vocal cords.

Mr Schwarten was then given a gag order to stop talking for 10 days, although his family admitted the silence only lasted for about two.

"I like to have a bit of a yap. I'm a yap merchant from way back so this isn't ideal for me.''

Mr Schwarten will undergo private surgery in February to have the new growths removed.

He said it was unclear if the surgery would be a long-term fix and believed he could now face the prospect of continued surgery in the future.

Worryingly, Mr Schwarten said there was also a risk he could lose his voice completely if the surgery failed.

"I don't want to think about that. I always try to have a positive view of the world.

"I'm just going to put myself in the hands of the best experts.''

Mr Schwarten faces a threemonth wait despite being in the highest private medical cover.

In the meantime, Mr Schwarten said he wasn't going to let a little thing like his voice stop him.

"There's a lot of people worse off than me. "As long as it (my voice) holds up, I'll be all right.



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