Monday, 19 January 2015

The Problem the ALP has with Disability

With two weeks to go in the Queensland State Election policy relating to people with disability has not been a significant issue in the election campaign thus far, much to my dismay.

That is why I found this Facebook post by the Labor candidate (and former Member) for Bulimba Di Farmer, rather curious. 
A bit (sic) shout out to my volunteers this morning, who were out in 20 different street stall locations across the electorate, in 37 degree heat. Talk about going the extra mile. It was very disappointing that the LNP chose to bully one of our workers who has a disability. However he knows that we love him and think he's fantastic, and that's the main thing.
Instinctively I had few questions about this post:

1/ Why mention on Facebook that this incident took place, unless the candidate wanted to exploit it for publicity?

2/ Why mention the victim's disability, unless the candidate wanted to exploit it for sympathy?

3/ If she was determined to highlight this incident why didn't she mention a positive aspect that the victim has brought to the campaign in addition to mentioning the incident? 

There is a definitive answer for each question:

The candidate is using this terrible incident as a partisan wedge in order to garner support for her campaign. Think I am overreacting? Let's have a quick look at some of the comments of people who have shared this post on Facebook:
typical of the LNP and their supporters they do not like sick,elderly or disabled people, vote the bastards out now. 
LNP think bullying disabled people is ok. Not very surprising seeing all the cuts to services Shame on you Liberal Party 
Have a read of this. Keep it "classy" @LNPQLD. ‪#‎qldvotes  

No sympathy for the victim. Not a word on how the ALP plans to integrate the thousands of displaced Queenslanders with a disability for example, or even one policy relating to the disability sector. Nothing. Just a giant, juicy wedge.

So I felt compelled to write a comment:
As another person with a disability, I wonder why Di feels the need to mention the bullying of a person with a disability on social media? Whilst it is never to be tolerated, the fact that you aired it in public suggests you are exploiting this unfortunate incident for partisan purposes, and are in fact sinking down to the perpetrator's level. 

Why even mention the victim's disability at all?

The classy thing to do would be to settle the matter on an individual level, then take appropriate action.
  Not surprisingly, Farmer's supporters did not take to this post kindly. One notable criticism included:
Todd no need to guess your prefered party. Di would never ever exploit anyone, Di would be helping rather than anything else.
 The first sentence has no basis in fact.

On Federal polling day in 2007. I was handing out to vote cards. I drove up to the ALP table (Yes, the ALP table!) and took a pile of how to vote cards off the volunteer I was relieving. Immediately upon his departure, a representative of the independent candidate (CR) asked me a question.
CR: Are you handing out how to vote cards because your Mum and Dad asked you to?
Me: No I'm handing them out, because I have a brain and have a degree in political science. I have no idea who my Mum and Dad will vote for, but they won't vote for your candidate when I tell them that they appoint small minded and ignorant volunteers. Piss off wanker!
Readers will know that I dine out on such stories for laughs as an attempt to point out how ignorant people are about disability. So when I joked about this experience with a senior campaign official after my shift at the polling booth, he said he wanted to take the incident to the local newspaper (the Facebook of the day, it seems). I pointed out that this was the last thing I wanted. All I wanted was the ability to mock this story. I could have asked for an apology, but I know it would have been insincere.

If Di Farmer's campaign were really serious about preventing further incidents of such poor behaviour, it would have sorted out this issue quietly. The campaign are still within their rights to seek an apology. Instead, with only .1% between her and another stint in parliament, she'll quite happily garner publicity, and implicitly ask her supporters to spread the story for political gain.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time Labor politicians have used social media to exploit people with disabilities. And it seems by implementing the NDIS, the ALP are practising what they preach. Use the disabled for political gain, and ignore them otherwise. This is why I left the ALP.

A growing trend amongst Australian 'progressives' on social media is the need to exploit the moral high ground, then claim an air of superiority over their opponents by claiming that they are ignorant bigoted fools. They may indeed be, but what these 'progressives' don't know is that their behaviour is actually far worse. It is one thing to not be aware of, or to not understand an issue. It is another to pretend that you do, but go on with disgusting behaviour in spite of what you promote. 

This is the failure of Labor, not just in Queensland, but the ALP as a whole.   

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