Minister for Disability Issues Nicky Wagner in Twitter firestorm over 'disgraceful' tweet
Minister for Disability Issues Nicky Wagner is copping a backlash on social media after tweeting that she would rather be "out on the harbour" than in meetings.
Wagner was in Auckland on Wednesday when she tweeted: "Busy with disability meetings in Auckland - rather be out in the harbour!"
Busy with Disability meetings in Auckland- rather be out on the harbour! pic.twitter.com/1i9O86hvod— Nicky Wagner MP (@nickywagner) June 15, 2017
The response, though delayed, was severe.
"Oh my gosh. Your my mp. From my area. You told me disability was your most important thing to you. You lied to me," one person tweeted on Sunday.
Said another: "Then resign and give your position to someone with integrity and compassion. Shame on you."
Well sorry for taking up your precious time by having a disability. I'd rather not have to think about it either. Ugh. #changethegovt— Draculaura (@fuzzywuzzie) June 17, 2017
Opposition MPs weighed in as well. "Oh. My. God," Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson said. "You are the Minister for Disabilities, show some respect. Actually, come to think of it, just resign and go be on the harbour."
Greens disability issues spokeswoman Mojo Mathers, who is deaf, tweeted: "I really question her commitment to the disability sector if she'd rather be on the harbour than meeting them."
Wagner responded to the criticism on Sunday morning, tweeting: "It was a gorgeous day and we all would have rather had the meetings out on the harbour."
Her critics were not sated.
Disingenuous much? Twitter Escalation Policy 101: acknowledge mistakes, take ownership and apologise. Your Grade: Epic Fail.— Skatrinx (@skatrin) June 17, 2017
"really?," one replied. "your response to backlash is to double down and refuse to apologise??"
Wagner tweeted again soon after: "I apologise for any offence I have caused to the disability community. That was not my intention."
I apologise for any offence I have caused to the disability community. That was not my intention.— Nicky Wagner MP (@nickywagner) June 17, 2017
Her press secretary provided a statement soon after: "I had a fantastic day in Auckland meeting with the Murray Halberg Trust, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, the New Zealand Artificial Limb Service and EMA on disability issues. It was a gorgeous day and we all would have rather had the meetings out on the harbour."
Prime Minister Bill English came to her defence. "There's no way it was meant to be offensive," he said of her initial tweet.
"Nicky Wagner is a strong advocate for the disability community. She has many friends there. No-one would believe that Nicky Wagner set out to be offensive to people with disabilities.
"She's a very hardworking, competent minister who made a mistake with her tweet, easily misunderstood, and she's fixed that, which is appropriate."
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