Politics

Peter Dutton Reckons His Labor Opponent Is Using Her Disability “As An Excuse”

Ali France lost her leg in an accident in 2011.

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Ever since his failed attempt to oust Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Dutton has faced a wave of backlash from the public, a concerted attempt to unseat him by advocacy group GetUp! and heat from his fellow politicians.

Now, ahead of the May 18 election, it seems like that pressure is starting to get to him. In an unprecedented rant, Dutton has claimed that Ali France, the Labor candidate running for his Queensland seat of Dickson, has used her disability “as an excuse.”

The comments came in response to France’s claim that she was unable to secure a wheelchair accessible house in Dickson ahead of the election. France works in Dickson, and has released a statement in which she promises that if she wins the seat, she will buy and renovate a house in the electorate.

France lost her leg above the knee when a car smashed into her at a suburban supermarket in 2011, crushing her against a wall, slicing her femoral artery and narrowly missing her young son.

Dutton dismissed France’s claims, arguing that she is merely using her wheelchair as an excuse for not moving to Dickson in time for the campaigning to ramp up.

In response, France has highlighted Dutton’s great privilege and wealth as the reason for his comments.

“If I am fortunate enough to represent the people of Dickson, I will have to buy a home and renovate it so that it is accessible,” France said in a statement. “Unlike my opponent who has nine houses, one of which is in the electorate, I have just one house that has been built to accommodate my disability.”

For his part, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has already leapt in to defend Dutton, as has Minister for Finance Matthias Cormann.

“Well, Peter Dutton was expressing views which were put to him by his constituents who had expressed those concerns,” Cormann told the press. “There are people with a disability [who] live across Dickson and people in his electorate have put [it] to him, … that they don’t accept the explanation that was offered, as a reason for his opponent not moving into the seat of Dickson.”

Morrison said that he hadn’t seen Dutton’s comments, but excused them anyway, saying appearing to suggest that Ali France was lying about her situation.

“When Labor tell lies in this campaign, we’ll call them out.”


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