Liberals pick sides over Warringah candidate Katherine Deves

The selection of Katherine Deves as the candidate for the Sydney seat of Warringah has exposed a deep rift within the New South Wales Liberal party as high profile members take sides on the debate over the controversial candidate.

The federal election campaign has been filled by daily revelations of comments and claims previously made the campaigner for ‘biological women’s rights’. Unlike previous candidates who have run foul of historical social media comments, most of Deves questionable comments have been made in recent times, some as fresh as January this year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has distanced himself from the ‘Save Women’s Sport’ co-founder and the bill put forward by Tasmanian senator Claire Chandler, saying there are no plans to make the proposed legislation a government bill.

Morrison is however sticking by the candidate, earlier this week he said Deves had appologised for her previous language and withdrawn her comments, but as more of her comments fill the headlines he’s facing pressure from high profile Liberals to both support Deves, and dump her from the campaign.

New South Wales Treasurer Matt Kean has spoken out against Deves saying it’s time for the PM to disendorse the candidate.

“She’s got to go,” Kean told the ABC. “There is no place for that vile bigotry in a mainstream political party or quite frankly anywhere.

“I am sick of people turning a blind eye to it.”

Kean expanded his comments when speaking to The Guardian

“This is not the 1950s. This is not an intolerant society. These kinds of horrendous views are not OK, and I’m sure the voters of Warringah agree. Time for the Liberal party to beat them to it and disendorse her.”

A leaked email also show members of the party are calling for Deves to be dumped, arguing the prime Minister’s continued support of her will hurt the national campaign.

Condamine Liberal Party branch president Walter Villatora has voiced fury about Deves, saying that her campaign hasn’t even been officially launched yet, while opponent Zali Steggall has two offices up and running.

“The view of many experienced members is that we would suffer less of a loss without a candidate than a candidate that has brought the party into disrepute to this extent. Steggall and the media will not let this go,” he said.

As the complaints about Deves build up so do the list of questionable comments she’s made in the past. So far Deves has issued multiple appologies for comments she made comparing her activism to fighting the holocaust, suggesting Wear It Purple Day is part of a “child grooming” process, suggesting transgender women have a high tendency to be sex offenders, and describing transgender youth as being “mutilated”.

She has yet to comment on the most recent wave of criticisms, including a video clip that showed her being dismissive to the transgender suicide rates, and another, uncovered by Channel 10 calling for LGBTIQA+ rights advocates to be destroyed like a mythical beast from Greek mythology.

“I feel like this is a Hydra” Deves says in the clip, referring to the mythical many-headed mythical snake beast. “We cut off one head and we end up with two, so we need to go for the immortal head, chop it off, and burry it forever under a rock.”

Teena McQueen

Deves is not without her supporters though, Federal Liberal Party Vice-President Teena McQueen says the party could win Warringah if it embraces Deves campaign and views.

McQueen said Morrison had personally picked Deves to be the candidate and she believes Deves has improved the party’s chances of picking up the seat.

“Up until a few weeks ago I’ve been telling everybody, ‘Read All About It’, we haven’t got a hope in hell of winning in Warringah, however the reaction to Katherine Deves and the last few days, I think she’s in with ‘half a shot’.

“The things she’s very passionate about, women’s sport and keeping female sport for women, it’s resonates with everybody. I think every study shows over 80 per cent of people support this, so I think the Prime Minister was silly to back away from that.

McQueen said the Prime Minister had reacted to “scare mongering from a few lefties”, and should have not backed away from Senator Claire Chandler’s bill.

“Katherine’s on a winner, and I’m giving her more of a chance in Warringah.”  McQueen said, encouraging Deves to “push hard” on policies she is passionate about.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has also voiced his support for Deves.  Abbott said Katherine Deves was someone he admired.

“She’s a tough, brave person who’s standing up for the rights of women and girls, for fairness in sport,” he said. “I very much admire her and can’t understand the pile on from people who claim to be supporters of women’s rights.” Abbott told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Graeme Watson

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