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Being Gareth Ward

Some Background

As just about everyone in the state of NSW would be aware right now, the NSW state minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services is under police investigation for "sexual violence" and has stepped down from ministerial duties as a result. This has of course, put him under the media spotlight and we know much more about him as a result.

Medical Condition

We know he was born with albinism - a condition which deprives him of any skin or hair color and has also left him legally blind since birth. 

New York "Misunderstanding"

We know he ordered a male masseur while staying in a Time Square hotel in New York during 2017 in what may or may not have been a tax-payer funded trip,  and was the subject to an extortion attempt.

His explanation was bizarre. He claimed he had ordered an "ordinary" massage because 'I have in the past got massages where I've gone because that's what often people will do and there was nothing untoward about what I did.'

That is what people do? Order massages wherever they travel? Really?  And of course, only the "ordinary" kind!

Naked as a Jay Bird

We know in 2020, he was reported to be naked and banging on a neighbor's door at the apartment complex in Pott's Point he uses when parliament is sitting, In this instance,  when police arrived, he was back outside his own door. He refused to be taken to hospital, though reportedly in a very confused state. The police were called again an hour later to find him wandering around common areas, in his underwear.  And again, he refused to be taken to hospital.

He would later claim he had received morphine earlier that day at hospital in regard to a "medical procedure". According to the Daily Mail however, neighbors claimed he reeked of alcohol.  The Daily Mail's request to see the police file on the incidents was refused.

Accusations of Misogyny and Bullying

In between these incidents, the Minister managed to garner quite a reputation among female political colleagues for misogyny, with one leaving parliament saying "bullying, betrayal and backstabbing have been the hallmarks of one of my state Liberal colleagues, Gareth Ward, over the past six and a half years."

Ward denied all accusations of bullying by claiming he himself had been the target of bullies at school and gave some details of how that played out:  

Mr Ward told Daily Mail Australia he was called a 'pink pig', had his hat taken away and fruit thrown at him by cruel bullies.

'I was given all sorts of nicknames. I used to have my hat taken away from me,' he said.

'People would pass that from one person to another,' he said.

In 2019, Minister Ward became the state's first disability services minister to have a disability.

Yet in 2015, Minister Ward sang an entirely different tune about his school days.

Here is what he told the ABC at the time:

He says he grew up with a supportive group of friends and family in Bomaderry who were protective of him, meaning he wasn't bullied just for looking different to everyone else.

The MP's mother Margaret Bowcher (pictured together) recalled how she was in tears after learning other schoolkids had burned her son's hat with cigarettes

The MP's mother Margaret Bowcher (pictured together) recalled how she was in tears after learning other schoolkids had burned her son's hat with cigarettes. Picture and caption courtesy Daily Mail

It seems to be the case that Minister Ward is willing to spin anything for political gain - or survival. But contradictory statements will always come back to bite you.

Regarding these latest charges, in light of his ability to spin and use weasel words, I have to point out that when he says he has done "nothing wrong", he is not in fact denying that something happened.

It is a sad state of affairs when you have to ask a politician when he denies doing anything wrong, if he in fact is talking about "legally" wrong or "morally" or "ethically" wrong. 

 Legally Blind

Australian politicians have become well-known in recent times for their inflated sense of entitlement. This seems to be true of Minister Ward if allegations of his ruthlessness within politics alongside rorting of travel allowances have any legitimacy.

But Ward has one entitlement advantage over all of his colleagues.

Being legally blind entitles him to a non-means tested, non-taxable Blind Disability Pension.  

It may not be generally known, but what this means is that Minister Ward could earn any amount at all, through employment or investments, and own as many assets as the Queen of Sheba and still get a full non-taxable Disability Pension. 

I need to emphasize here that if he does in fact get such a pension, he is doing nothing illegal. But the fact is that we will never know if he does, unless he tells us, because of (very needed and warranted) privacy laws. 

What would you do if you were in his shoes? Would you claim it? I would like to think it would not even enter my head to do it.  Unfortunately, with our current crop of politicians, not much can be ruled out when it comes to getting all they can out of tax-payers.

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