Disability advocates furious with Tony Abbott after ‘waffly’ jibe

Posted on August 1, 2010


Today in the Herald Sun Tony Abbott slips up again !!!

Michael Harvey – Herald Sun

A THROWAWAY line by Tony Abbott describing discussions in Parliament about blind and deaf people as “waffly” has angered disability advocates and the Government.

The Opposition Leader apologised last night for his comments.

He had said he would seek to change Parliament’s standing orders to reform Question Time, by moving the scheduling of “waffly ministerial statements on things like the accessibility of cinemas”.

The Federal Government recently struck a deal with cinema chains to install captions and audio equipment on at least 242 screens in 132 cinemas.

Parliamentary secretary for disabilities Bill Shorten said the remark proved Mr Abbott did not understand the reality of discrimination.

“If it was indigenous people or women who could not go to the cinema, it would be discrimination, and I’m sure Mr Abbott would agree.

“When it’s disabled people who can’t get access, however, he thinks it’s just waffle,” he said.

Blind Citizens Australia executive officer Robyn Gaile said Mr Abbott had missed the point and disrespected “the inherent dignity of people who are blind or vision-impaired, or deaf or hearing-impaired”.

Deafness Forum of Australia chief executive Nicole Lawder was “extremely disappointed”.

“Cinema access is … certainly not irrelevant or waffle,” Ms Lawder said.

Australian Federation of Disability Organisations spokesman David Brant said the comments betrayed a lack of understanding of difficulties faced by disabled people.

Last night, Mr Abbott said he had been “misinformed about that particular statement”.

“It was a poor example to use, and I’m sorry if I’ve caused any offence,” he said.

Like most Opposition Leaders, Mr Abbott wants to limit the length of ministerial answers in Question Time.

He had intended quoting instances of ministers soaking up sitting time with drawn-out speeches on relatively minor issues, in order to bolster his argument that the sitting time should instead be spent on debating matters of “public importance”.

Sourced : http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/special-reports/disability-advocates-fury-at-tony-abbott/story-fn5ko0pw-1225899755964