politics

Just 14 embarrassing things election candidates have been caught doing in the last week.

This year’s federal election campaign is only five weeks (and two days) long. Which is good, because if it went any longer there would probably be no candidates left.

Since Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the May 18 election on April 11, close to 20 candidates have been disendorsed. A few have had citizenship issues (surely we should have a handle on that by now?), one was disendorsed because she is an Australia Post employee and another, Liberal candidate Murray Angus, because he called his Labor opponent a “good bloke”. Outrageous.

Then there have also been the candidates from many different parties who have been disendorsed, sacked, or made to apologise due to their shady online behaviour.

Mamamia’s daily news podcast The Quicky spoke to a competitive intelligence research consultant whose job it is to find the dirt on politicians… because in the game of politics, you win or you die. Post continues below audio.

This all begs the question: Who the heck is vetting these people?

Here’s a run down of the embarrassing/disturbing/infuriating things 14 of our candidates have done – people who, by the way, are asking us to vote for them.

  • Gurpal Singh, the Liberal candidate for Scullin, was asked to resign after Facebook comments he made on a story written by an alleged rape victim in 2017, in which he said he had “no sympathy” for the author, were discovered. His party and Scott Morrison previously stood by him despite a 2017 interview with SBS Radio where he linked same-sex marriage to paedophilia – in response, Labor released an attack ad on gay dating app Grindr.
labor ad about gurpal singh on grindr
Touché, Labor. Image: Twitter.
  • Tony Pecora, the United Australia Party candidate for Melbourne, was sacked after he outed himself as a September 11 conspiracy theorist, claiming the terror attacks were the work of "globalist forces" possibly including the US government, in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
  • Jay Dessi, the Greens candidate for Lalor, quit after old Facebook posts in which he joked about having sex with a ghost and made a racist joke about an Asian friend were uncovered.
  • Jessica Whelan, the Liberal candidate for Lyons, has been dumped for anti-Islamic comments she made on Facebook, including calling for a referendum on whether or not Australia closes its borders to Muslims and saying refugees were not wanted in Tasmania. In another post she appears to suggest feminists and Muslim women should have their genitals mutilated.
jessica whelan
Jessica Whelan comment about refugees. Image: Getty.
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  • Tony Hanley, the United Australia Party candidate for Bean, said his posts attacking the LGBTQI+ community, women, Muslims and immigrants were "defendable", citing to the ABC his good work with the Canberra community.
  • Peter Killin, the Liberal candidate for Wills quit after it was revealed he encouraged conservative Christians to "infiltrate" the Libs, wrote homophobic comments and said he would not have voted for openly gay former Liberal Tim Wilson because of his sexuality.
  • Jeremy Hearn, the Liberal candidate for Isaacs was disendorsed when a conspiracy-laden rant he wrote last year, suggesting Muslim Australians were plotting to overthrow the government and introduce Sharia law, was discovered.
  • Wayne Kurnoth, the Labor candidate for the Northern Territory Senate was sacked when it was discovered he shared an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that claimed the world was being run by a society of Jewish shapeshifting lizards on Facebook in 2015.
  • Steve Dickson, the One Nation candidate for Queensland Senate resigned after footage emerged of him groping a woman and saying sexist remarks while at a strip club in the United States last year was leaked to A Current Affair.
steve dickson a current affair strip club
A screenshot obtained on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, from Nine's A Current Affair, that shows One Nation senate candidate Steve Dickson in a US strip club. Image: AAP.
  • Ross Macdonald, the One Nation candidate for Leichhardt is embroiled in scandal after photos he'd shared of him groping a topless woman in Thailand and other bizarre, sexual images were brought to light.
  • Sachin Joshi, the Liberal candidate for Paterson was caught saying the gender pay gap exists because women are not interested in "money matters and other business-related stuff" in an October 2018 LinkedIn post.
  • Luke Creasey, the Labor candidate for Melbourne was forced to apologise after it was revealed he shared a rape joke and pornographic material on his Facebook page in 2012. Only after further backlash was he disendorsed.
  • Stewart Hine, the United Australia Party candidate for Nicholls had to backtrack after emails in which he tried to swap ad spend for favourite coverage of Clive Palmer's party in a regional newspaper were seen by the ABC.
  • Angus Taylor, the Liberal energy minister and MP for Campbelltown made a blunder more embarrassing than controversial when he was caught making a positive comment about himself, from himself, on his own Facebook page - obviously forgetting to change Facebook profiles.
angus taylor facebook comment

For good measure, let's add two more candidates that have us feeling less than enthused for the rest of the campaign:

  • Fraser Anning, for being the absolute worst - the senator launched his party's candidates at the site of the Sydney riots and sadly, egg boy was not present.
  • Pauline Hanson, One Nation leader, appeared on A Current Affair lamenting the damage to her party caused by political scandals and positioning herself as the victim.

It's a sad list, huh?

A survey from July 2018 found Australians' trust in politicians and democracy was at an all-time low (and this was even before August's leadership spill). Is it any wonder why?

When we are presented with candidates who openly share racist, sexist and homophobic content online, and don't even have the foresight to wipe their social media history before putting their hands up for public office, it paints a very clear picture as to why we have no faith in politicians.

Being active in our democracy by voting is absolutely important... But wow, can we please have some better options?

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