The federal election campaign has yet again become a race to the bottom of the barrel, with Peter Dutton, the Liberal MP for the north Brisbane seat of Dickson, apologising after he accused a rival candidate of “using her disability as an excuse” for not moving to the seat.
Labor‘s Ali France, who will contest the seat at the coming federal election, is a former journalist who was hit by an out-of-control car while pushing her son’s stroller through a parking lot in 2011. Both survived, but she was pinned to another vehicle, and lost her left leg above the knee.
France lives just outside the boundaries of the electorate and plans to move there, but says he has had difficulty finding a house that can accommodate her particular needs, and that she will finalise plans to relocate there if she is successful on May 18.
In an interview with News Corp yesterday, Peter Dutton made an extraordinary attack on his rival, who has recently been door-knocking around the seat of Dickson, saying:
“There are plenty of people with disability living in Dickson. A lot of people have raised this with me. I think they are quite angry that Ms France is using her disability as an excuse for not moving into our electorate.”
The Home Affairs Minister, who last week said that Australia must “establish a culture of respect for people living with disabilities”, was quickly condemned for his comments. At a campaign event this morning, former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally said:
“This week Peter Dutton [has launched] a mean, low, despicable attack against a woman with a disability, Ali France, a mother who lost her leg shielding her child from a car accident. Mr Dutton, after all, is a thug. Mr Dutton is the most toxic man in the Liberal Party. Mr Dutton is mean and despicable.”
Dutton has since Tweeted a fairly lukewarm apology to his rival, saying “my argument with the Labor candidate is how our respective policies would affect the people of Dickson.”
I apologise to Ms France for my comments yesterday. My argument with the Labor candidate is about how our respective policies would affect the people of Dickson.
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) April 13, 2019