Riverina councillor likens autistic boy to a 'drunken Japanese tourist'

A screenshot from the post.
A screenshot from the post.

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.”


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