National

Dutton apologises to disabled Labor rival

By AAP Newswire

Peter Dutton has offered Ali France an on-air apology after claiming his Labor opponent was using her disability as an excuse for not living in the electorate.

Their contest for the Brisbane-based seat of Dickson got off to a controversial start after Mr Dutton made the incendiary remarks last week.

However, Mr Dutton repeated an earlier apology when the pair took part in a live radio debate on Tuesday afternoon.

"I apologised for it the other day and I apologise for it now," he told ABC Radio Brisbane.

Mr Dutton said he was conveying views raised by his constituents.

"I could have done it in a more sensitive way," he said.

"But we all make mistakes, I made a mistake, and I apologise."

Ms France thanked her incumbent Liberal opponent for his apology, saying she didn't want to rake over old coals, adding that the contest should be a battle of ideas.

But the amputee sent a clear message to other people with disabilities.

"Your disability is not an excuse, it is our reality," Ms France said.

"We don't want pity. We don't want special treatment. But what we do expect - particularly from leaders - is that they have an understanding."

The Labor candidate also confronted claims she'd received strong support from GetUp in her bid to unseat the Home Affairs minister.

Ms France said she'd had no contact with the left-wing activist group during her campaign.

Meanwhile, Mr Dutton was forced to defend his instrumental role in last year's ugly Liberal leadership spill.

Mr Dutton did not resile from trying to roll Malcolm Turnbull, but his challenger argued the people of Dickson were sick of the leadership turmoil in Canberra.