Saturday, 27 March 2010

Next Episode - Jellybeans in the Jungle - Chapter 6

The Worm Turns

Despite the title, this post has nothing to do with the recent political debate.

It does, however, relate to matters political.

For the first time that I'm aware, a candidate representing people with disabilities looks like becoming a representative in an Australian parliament. The candidate is Kelly Vincent, and she seems set to win a seat in the South Australian upper house for the Dignity for Disability Party.

The original candidate died shortly before the ballot, and his votes went to Kelly. She is confined to a wheelchair, and this no doubt will create some access difficulties for the SA parliamnet. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to fix it.

Kelly will not, of course, be the first person in a wheelchair to sit in an Australian parliament. Remember Grahame Edwards? Grahame is a  Vietnam Veteran and former Federal member for the seat of Cowan, in Western Australia. He served in the Assault Pioneer platoon of my old unit, 7RAR, and lost his legs in an incident on 12 May 1970, near Route 326.

Edwards has a special place in my heart as providing the best short summary on record of fellow WA MHR Wilson Tuckey's character -

Mate, I think he's a disgrace," Edwards says. "As far as I'm concerned, he's just a bloody big coward. Anyone who makes a name for himself on the basis of having someone else hold a person down while you hit them is, in my books, a dingo.

This came after Tuckey cast aspersions about Edwards on the basis that he was receiving a TPI allowance. John Howard came to Edward's defence, surely the first time a coalition leader had been forced, because of the outrageous nature of Tuckey's behaviour, to stand up for a Labor member. Howard didn't have the courage to discipline Tuckey, however.

Apart from his capacity to call cowardice when he saw it, Edwards did an enormous amount behind the scenes and across party lines for people with disabilities.

Politics, in Australia, as much as everywhere else is about power and influence. The significance of this event is that a person from a marginalised group, and a section of society with the least power, has been elected to represent everyone in her constituency.

The worm has turned - at least in South Australia.

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...