Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Ignorance Demonstrates Peacock's own Deffiencies

Being a political academic, a member of a political party and a person with a disability I feel it would be remiss of me not to write about the words of former Liberal leader Andrew Peacock yesterday. Returning to campaign in his old seat of Kooyong (also once held by Robert Menzies) on behalf of his party Peacock made an inappropriate statement during the course of his media statement. He said:

You'd need to be pretty handicapped not to appreciate that this [Labor] government is dissolving before your eyes daily...

Now unlike some others I’ve come across I don’t find this comment particularly offensive. I am disappointed more than angry. His words were even more stupefying given the ALP’s candidate for Kooyong has a vision impairment. Make no mistake Peacock knew what he was saying, this was carefully targeted in an effort to score cheap political points. No apology will get him out of this.

I’ve previously written about the disadvantage that my disability would have on a potential political career. This is exactly the kind of comment I fear. Peacock’s attempts to juxtapose a ‘handicap’ with incompetence and mismanagement demonstrate how ignorant he is about people with disabilities and the issues that confront us. Putting the aside that the term ‘handicapped’ became outmoded several years ago, it is clear that Peacock has had little exposure to people with disabilities in his life, otherwise he would know that his comments would put him at a greater disadvantage than anyone who is diagnosed with a physical disability, intellectual impairment or mental illness. Attack one Mr Peacock and you attack us all.

This is not a party political issue. This is an issue about respect and human decency. My initial reaction to his comments was to make it personal and want to challenge him on an intellectual level. Now I’ve come to the conclusion that I am wasting my time. Peacock was a politician who struggled with credibility in his heyday and his comments represent attitudes of the past generations and he is relic of his era. What little credibility he had now is gone. For all his faults his arch political foe John Howard would have never made such a disgraceful comment. He has honour, Peacock clearly has none.

Those offended by Peacock’s comments need not get angry. People with disabilities have already been elected to Federal Parliament and will continue to be. Who knows a ‘handicapped’ person might achieve the office of Prime Minister, the one office Peacock craved so much. That would be delicious irony.

1 comment:

  1. A 'handicapped' person absolutely WILL acheive the office of Prime Minister; you will.

    I look forward to living in The Lodge, don't you?