National party Damage Control Machine kicks into gear for Nicky Wagner

Some of Wagner’s best friends are disabled.  Please take note of the photo.  It even has a child in it.  How can she possibly be as heartless as she appeared?

“Magically”, the photo was accompanied by this totally spontaneous and not at all made-to-order “opinion piece” to prove that Mother Theresa was only lucky that Wagner wasn’t nominated as a Saint.

So Nicky Wagner apparently hates disabled people. Which is awkward, given she’s this country’s minister for disability issues, but the inescapable truth to take from the unholy mess she brought upon herself on Sunday.

Wagner was the dumbest bell that rang all week on Twitter when she felt compelled to share a picture of her view of the Auckland waterfront on a lovely winter’s day with her followers.

“Busy with disability meetings in Auckland,” read the accompanying tweet, “rather be out in the harbour!”

And now for the damage control.  

Just about every single one of the hundreds of tweets in response went like this one: “You disgust me. You obviously have no clue and no compassion to make that statement and think a Sorry is going to sort it. RESIGN.”

Which on first reading, doesn’t seem all that out of line. A heartless politician complaining about pesky constituents keeping her from her yacht and a day on the Hauraki Gulf – time for a take-down.

But Wagner was so obviously not complaining about how her boring job working for disabled people was a total drag and instead making a good old-fashioned hash of trying to appear like regular folks who’d rather be sailing than working on a sunny day, that the whole crusade immediately rang hollow.

If she had tweeted “Busy with budget meetings in Auckland – rather be out in the harbour!”, zero people would have cared. We all hate budget meetings, right?

Disabilities, though, that’s real people. Real people in wheelchairs, real people with missing limbs. Real people living with often debilitating physical and mental impairments who it is Wagner’s job to champion the rights of.

Again, sounds bad the first time, but the logic doesn’t stack up. Inserting one different word about a slightly more delicate issue doesn’t change the sentiment of the whole tweet.

If it did, it wouldn’t have taken us three days to decide we were outraged.

So, according to Michael Wright, the fact that nobody takes notice of Wagner and there was a weekend as well, and some kind of rugby game and some sailing means that the delayed reaction simply indicates we aren’t genuine at being disgusted.

She didn’t write “stuck in a budget meeting, rather be on the harbour”.  And for a supposedly seasoned minister, in an election year, she deserves all the bile that has come her way.


– Michael Wright, Stuff


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