A RIVERINA councillor has landed himself in hot water after he likened a young disabled boy to a “drunken Japanese tourist” in an embarrassing social media gaffe.
Bland Shire Councillor Murray Thomas has faced severe community backlash after his comments, with some community members calling for his immediate resignation.
The sledge came amid a furore over West Wyalong’s next major expenditure project.
Residents have been at odds over whether funding should be used to build a swimming complex or a joint visitor information center and library.
Cr Thomas spotted the 20-year-old autistic boy singing in West Wyalong’s current library and attempted to use him as an example of why a new facility is needed.
His statement was described as “offensive”, “sick” and “an absolute disgrace” by residents.
Therese MacFarlane – the mother of the autistic boy, Ollie – said the heartless words have shaken her entire family.
“He’s a gentle giant, so to pick on someone who is non-verbal and so vulnerable is just disgraceful,” the mother said.
“He has used his position to belittle my son and anybody with a disability – insinuating that they aren’t welcome in public places and are second rate citizens.
Cr Thomas apologised for the comment, and said he had no way of knowing the boy’s condition.
“I realise I was out of line and I attempted to personally apologise to the family of the young man,” he said.
“There is no way I could have known.”
THE POST, Murrays Maxi Taxi, Facebook
"VIC in Library" - 1330 hours March 6, 2017 - While picking up some mail at the Council Office, I took the opportunity to drop into the Library to follow up on some recent feedback from dissatisfied visitors.
Their complaint; "they were unable to get directions to the public access areas on Lake Cowal from the VIC staff."
When I entered the library, the first think I noticed was a young bloke wearing headphones plugged into a computer at a desk to the left, and there's nothing wrong with that, except he was singing out loud like a drunken Japanese tourist in a Karaoke bar.
I asked the VIC / Library attendant if there were any directions to the public access areas on Lake Cowal available?
The VIC / Library attendant started to explain that she was a new starter and the other more experienced VIC staff was on lunch break, which was perfectly acceptable, until she was called away to serve an confused elderly lady who sullenly expected the attendant to assist her load an antivirus program on her mobile phone.
While the attendant was politely suggesting that this was not really one of the library or VIC staff's duties and she may be better off asking one of the friendly staff at Harvey Normans, another lady was patiently waiting to be served a the counter.
Not wanting to add to the confusion, I quietly left her to it, though she did catch up with me at my car before I left and apologised for the level of service available.
I told her not to worry about it, as she was clearly placed in an unacceptable position by the conditions in which she was expected to work.
Imagine a visitor walking in on this fiasco, they'd be straight back to the door to see if they hadn't walked into the sheltered workshop by mistake, and realising they hadn't, the only directions they would be after would be the way out of this town.
While I'll admit I have always been against the blatant disregard for the Visitor Economy be delegating the VIC function to sad second function for a few overworked librarians, the incident above makes it fairly clear to even the most xenophobic feral that the current situation is both a waste of money and time.