The new federal government has copped a blast from former Australian of the Year Grace Tame, just three months after she heralded Anthony Albanese’s election win as “a triumph of hope".
The advocate for survivors of sexual assault took to social media on Sunday night to criticise the first sitting week of parliament, describing decisions to exclude an Auslan interpreter from the senate chamber and a senator with a disability from a leadership role as “a crock of w**k".
On her Instagram account, Ms Tame joined those frustrated by politicians from the major parties last week not supporting moves to allow an Auslan interpreter into the Senate or enabling the only senator with a disability to chair a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) committee.
“Must be such a slog for these poor old, elected ableist toffs to breathe in there, for all the privilege stifling the parliament,” she lashed out.
“What a crock of w**k.
“The general public apologises for making any attempt to try to increase engagement with your elitist circle jerking.
“We’ll happily go back to ignoring your echo chamber of whitewashed white noise, if that’s what you’d prefer.”
Out of favour
Ms Tame’s dressing down of the new government is in contrast to the praise she heaped on Anthony Albanese after he clinched the top job in May.
“A grateful nation is crying with you,” 2021’s Australian of the Year wrote on Instagram the day after the vote.
“Here’s to inclusion, integrity, diversity, truth, equity, respect, safety and change. A better future. For all of us.”
Posted alongside a photo of a beaming Ms Tame and incoming PM, the 27-year-old’s remarks were a smiling endorsement in the wake of her infamous side-eye to Scott Morrison at The Lodge earlier this year.
'A failure to act'
It was a rocky first week in parliament for the government which copped heavy criticism over developments relating to the disabled community.
The ACT’s first independent senator and Aussie rugby legend, David Pocock, was the first to hit a stumbling block when his request to have an Auslan speaker interpret his maiden speech was rejected.
The move, which needed permission for a ‘stranger’ to enter the Senate, was denied by both the Government and the Opposition over concerns it would set a precedent to invite more ‘strangers’ into the chamber.
“I understand that the difference between Mandy being there in the broadcasting studio and here on the floor of the chamber is the difference between accessibility and inclusion,” he said.
“Today we have achieved the former but not the latter. In future, I hope we can achieve both.”
Ms Tame’s other gripe included a decision not to allow a disabled member of parliament to sit as the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
While the position is traditionally held by Labor and Liberal members, the Greens raised a vote to allow their Senator Jordon Steele-John, the only federal politician who uses a wheelchair, to take the job.
But the move was voted down.
“Voting against this motion shows that their [the Albanese government’s] priorities do not include true transformation for our NDIS,” Senator Steele-John said.
“This was a huge opportunity to start doing that. They failed to see that and they have failed to act in [the] community interest.”
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