Election Controversy: Two candidates and a double standard

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Labor political candidate Mich-Elle Myers, left, and Liberal Katherine Deves are in the spotlight over hurtful public comments. But only one is facing widespread criticism, inviting observations from many that a double standard is being employed. PHOTOS: alp.org.au, Mick Tsikas/AAP

Social media slander scandals inside both major political parties expose a shocking double standard across the political divide

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has not responded to calls for a NSW Labor Senate candidate to be disendorsed after it emerged she had described Jesus as gay and written offensive comments about Pope Francis and the Catholic Church on her Twitter account.

It comes as the Coalition accuses Labor of double standards after it called for the disendorsement of the Liberal candidate in the northern Sydney seat of Warringah, Katherine Deves, for having written comments on social media in which she described transgender children as “surgically mutilated and sterilised” and called for transgender participants to be barred from participating in female sport.

Labor’s national junior vice president Mich-Elle Myers, who is fourth on the ALP’s NSW Senate ticket in the May 21 election, has deleted and apologised for comments she wrote in 2012 and 2013 which have triggered outrage from the Christian group, Family Voices Australia.

In a tweet posted during ABC TV’s Q and A program in May 2013, Ms Myers, who was at that time working for the Maritime Union of Australia, wrote “Jesus was gay! You heard it here first”.

I’ve had enough of the Catholic Church and the s**t that comes from their mouths.”
ALP candidate, Mich-Elle Myers

Ms Myers has singled out Pope Francis and the Catholic Church in a number of her tweets including one tweet, since deleted on Christmas Day in 2012 which read: “Dear Pope, get your head out of your a**e. The behaviour of your peers threatens humanity not ‘the gays’.”

Three days later, Ms Myers posted another tweet, critical of the Church: “I’ve had enough of the Catholic Church and the s**t that comes from their mouths”.

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Family Voice Australia has called on Mr Albanese to dump Ms Myers from Labor’s NSW Senate ticket for making such offensive comments about Jesus Christ and says the smear highlights that she is unfit for public office.

Its NSW spokesman Greg Bondar said Ms Myers, in a senior role within the ALP, should be setting an example to other candidates with her conduct and added that her unacceptable comments on social media highlight the need for the passing of a Religious Discrimination Act by the federal parliament to ensure Christians are not persecuted in the public sphere in this way.

The Catholic Weekly approached Mr Albanese for comment on Ms Myers’ remarks, but no response was received as the publication went to press this week.

NSW Liberal Senator, Hollie Hughes, said Ms Myers should be immediately disendorsed by Mr Albanese given the deep hurt she has caused to Christians.

“Mr Albanese’s silence on this issue has been quite breathtaking, let alone hypocritical with regards to attacks that they’re very happy to put on conservative candidates, yet are protecting someone who has said the most vile and insensitive things to those of a Catholic or Christian faith”, Senator Hughes told The Catholic Weekly.

A tale of two leaders: Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. The PM’s candidate for the seat of Warringah has been condemned for inappropriate tweets, yet one of Mr Albanese’s NSW Senate candidates has escaped the same level of public scrutiny. Photos: AAP, Pool, Alex Ellinghausen

Liberal candidate Katherine Deves has defended her decision to describe transgender children as “surgically mutilated and sterilised”, despite earlier apologising for using the phrase. She has however apologised for earlier remarks on social media in which she compared her activism in preventing transgender people from competing in women’s sport to opposition to the Holocaust.

Mr Albanese’s silence on this issue has been quite breathtaking, let alone hypocritical with regards to attacks that they’re very happy to put on conservative candidates …” – Hollie Hughes, NSW Liberal Senator

Senator Hughes concedes that Katherine Deves has made inappropriate comments. However she believes Labor should apply the same standards to Mich-Elle Myers as they applied to Katherine Deves.

“It’s certainly reflective of the hypocrisy within the ALP where a number of MPs profess a strong Christian faith and yet continue to publicly endorse people who share views that are highly offensive towards Christians”, she said.

“If they had an ounce of integrity, they would have least acknowledged that Mich-Elle Myers’s comments were unacceptable. Their silence I think is the most disturbing aspect of this.” Senator Hughes said the media-pile on against Katherine Deves has been overwhelming and yet at the same time, the highly offensive comments from Ms Myers have attracted minimal media scrutiny.

“When we look at the way the media and the Labor Party have treated Ms Deves for what I agree were inappropriate tweets and yet we’re seeing silence from the ALP in regards to Ms Myers. For Mr Albanese to parade himself at his old school, St Mary’s Cathedral College and proclaim his Catholic faith publicly in the election campaign and yet remain silent on Ms Myers’ comments is deeply disturbing.

“Is Mr Albanese only of the Catholic faith when it’s political expedient of him to be so?”

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