John Alexander, the MP who resigned amid the parliamentary citizenship crisis and was just re-elected in the subsequent Bennelong by-election, drew criticism yesterday for a particularly tone-deaf comment that he made during his acceptance speech.

While all that’s really required of a pollie accepting a win is to smile politely, thank everyone, and get the hell out of there, Alexander, a former tennis player, decided to drop this astonishing nugget into his speech:

I got to a time when I thought my tennis career was finished, I hurt my back, I started coaching there, the back got better. I was eligible for the disabled sticker on my car! Then I got to about number fourteen in the world. The doctor at the time said ‘you have eligibility for a disabled sticker’, I said ‘I still have some pride’. That was before I entered politics.

Unsurprisingly, a number of people were fairly upset by this, and many have called for Alexander to apologise.

And look, it seems like he gave it a red-hot go. Okay, maybe a lukewarm go. He definitely gave apologising a go, in any case.

What he actually told reporters today was:

What I was saying was that nobody who doesn’t have the right or really deserves to have such a parking sticker should take it.

You can be mischievous with your interpretation, but my point was that no-one who doesn’t really need it should not have it.

He then pulled a classic non-apology (“if anybody’s been offended I apologise“), and finished up with the eyebrow-raising claim that “no-one has done more for people with disabilities than I have“.

ImageMalcolm Turnbull has gone into damage-control mode, interpreting Alexander’s comments thus:

John has already said that those people who were offended, he apologises, John is a great Australian with a big heart.

Disability advocates are still not impressed – and frankly, who can blame them. Paralympian Kurt Fearnley puts it very succinctly:

Might want to get yourself back to that doctor, Mr Alexander. You’ve got a blistering case of foot in mouth.

Source: 9NEWS
Image: AAP / Paul Braven