Both sides expect the election to be dirty but few thought Peter Dutton would stoop so low so quickly

To appreciate the vindictiveness of that claim, it’s worth a brief recap of France’s story.

The former journalist was pushing a stroller containing her son through a car park in 2011 when an out-of-control car screamed in her direction. She tried to push the stroller out of the way but it went under the car, which then slammed into France and pinned her against the front of another vehicle.

France woke up in intensive care days later and was told that while son Zac had survived, surgeons had amputated the young mother’s left leg from above the knee to save her life.

Both sides expect the election campaign to be dirty but few thought it could go so low so quickly by exploiting the plight of a woman in a wheelchair.

France has doorknocked thousands of houses for the past few months while wearing a prosthetic, but relies on a wheelchair at home. She lives about two kilometres outside the electorate and has had trouble finding a new house in Dickson that can accommodate her specific needs. She’s pledged to finish the search and move into the electorate if she snatches the seat from Dutton in May.

France has a very good chance of achieving a remarkable victory and the Home Affairs Minister knows it. He is under pressure. And he is lashing out.

“There are plenty of people with disability living in Dickson,” Dutton told News Corp on Friday.

“A lot of people have raised this with me. I think they are quite angry that Ms France is using her disability as an excuse for not moving into our electorate.”

Peter Dutton was first elected to Parliament at the 2001 election.Credit:

It was a mean attack and hardly squares with Morrison’s public plea for a new culture of respect for the two million Australians living with a disability. Morrison twice had the chance to repudiate his minister on Friday but declined to take it.

“Those comments have been taken out of context,” Morrison suggested.


Both sides expect the election campaign to be dirty but few thought it could go so low so quickly by exploiting the plight of a woman in a wheelchair.

Dutton’s message to Dickson voters is two-fold: my opponent in a liar, and she is not committed to the seat. Suggesting France has a problem with the truth is an interesting strategy from a man who repeatedly pledged his loyalty to Malcolm Turnbull in public while plotting a leadership coup behind the scenes.

Questioning her commitment to local voters is also hypocritical given Dutton spends plenty of time in a $2.3 million holiday home on a stretch of the Gold Coast known locally as “Millionaire’s Row”, far away from suburban Dickson. And let’s not forget Dutton tried to abandon Dickson in 2009 by switching to a safer Gold Coast seat.  He failed. And his first salvo of the 2019 campaign has spectacularly failed too.

Bevan Shields is the Federal Editor and Canberra Bureau Chief for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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