Fred Thorpe had the first question on Q&A, and within five minutes she’d stolen the show.
She opened with a very pertinent question:
“Why are politicians’ expenses extravagant and I’m having my Disability Support Pension reviewed?”
Fair point – given the recent scandals with Bronwyn Bishop hooning around in a helicopter and Sussan Ley’s expenses fiasco, it’s pretty reasonable to be pissed off that our priority is cracking down on disability pensioners.
It’s a play straight out of the conservative textbook – when in doubt, demonise those on welfare.
And sure, some might say the issue of politicians’ expenses and disability pensions are completely separate.
But maybe we should be asking questions about why the Government is prioritising one over the other as a fiscal savings mechanism?
Long story short, News Corp blowhard, Piers Akerman, gave some sneering, condescending answer and George Brandis made a half-hearted effort to deflect blame, saying that we need to come down hard on people with disabilities because well..his own Treasury can’t effectively manage a budget without doing so.
He also tried to throw her off the scent by telling the audience that Parliament are revoking Gold Passes, but Thorpe had clearly done her research.
While most Q&A audience members just ask their question and shut up, Fred wasn’t done, far from it in fact, and went on a brilliant rant that’s essential viewing.
(Skip to about the three-minute mark)
First, she pointed out that the meagre efforts to rectify politician’s spending is “too little, too late” – and then she hit closer to home.
“This is my daughter, Andy, she’s in Year 11, she’s my registered carer.
She was the NSW Young Carer Of The Year, Young Citizen Of The Year for Manly, and after taking care of her mum, she’s going to study to become a doctor.
Along with her sister and brother, my disability pension will produce more for Australia than a politician ever will.”
She wasn’t done.
Fred went on to explain that she was told two weeks ago that she was being reviewed, at the same time Turnbull was having lunch with Rupert Murdoch.
“I hope they ate well, because I spent most of the weekend throwing up from absolute fear, Mr Brandis,” she said.
“While the Prime Minister was enjoying the privileges of Kirribilli House with a billionaire, I was at home with $1.65 to my name trying to figure out how I could cook food for the remainder of the week.
Mr Hockey referred to us as leaners, not lifters, well let me tell you Mr Hockey…as a member of my community, as a teacher for 28 years, as a member of my church, sporting clubs, I have never been a leaner.
I am a very proud lifter and I don’t sit around drinking expensive bottles of champagne on the public dollar.”
You can watch that last part of Fred’s speech below if you skip to about the 13-minute mark.
Now sadly we just have to sit back and wait for The Australian to run some malicious smear campaign against her on the front pages of Wednesday’s paper.