Independent Warringah MP Zali Steggall has taken aim at the Liberal party over the candidate preselected to challenge her in the upcoming federal election, accusing Prime Minister Scott Morrison of weaponising trans issues.
Katherine Deves was selected as the Warringah candidate by a committee of three – Morrison, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and former party president Chris McDiven – on the eve of the election being called, amid a legal fight with the NSW branch over preselections.
Deves runs a lobby group, Save Women’s Sport, which opposes the inclusion of trans women in women’s sport. She has falsely claimed that “half of all males with trans identities are sex offenders”. And, on her now-deleted Twitter account, she called trans children “surgically mutilated and sterilised” and said she was triggered by the rainbow flag. The online comments were made before she became the candidate for Warringah and she has since apologised.
Steggall, a former Winter Olympian, said inclusion of trans people in sport was a “non-issue” and sporting bodies are able to manage the issue under the current legislation.
Stegall said the selection of Deves “cuts to the core of Scott Morrison’s character”.
“He will weaponise whatever he sees to is benefit no matter the cost to vulnerable communities,” she told the ABC’s RN Breakfast.
Morrison said on the weekend he would not join the “pile-on” calling for Deves to be disendorsed.
Earlier, NSW Treasurer Matt Kean demanded she be dumped because there is “no place for bigotry in a mainstream political party”. Some Liberals believe Deves’ past comments may hurt them in other inner-city seats where moderates members of the party are facing challenges from the so-called “teal” independents.