Katter party nominee in gay teacher furore
Senate nominee Bernard Gaynor says parents should have the right to choose whether a gay person teaches their children.PT2M21S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2d8ps 620 349 January 24, 2013
Bob Katter's new Australian Party's foray into Victoria for the federal election has hit controversy with a candidate likening gays and lesbians to paedophiles.
Tess Corbett, from Lake Bolac, is challenging Liberal MP Dan Tehan for the seat on behalf of the party.
In an interview with The Hamilton Spectator Ms Corbett said she considered gay people to be in the same category as paedophiles.
Tess Corbett. Photo: Hamilton Spectator
"Paedophiles will be next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians and get rights," she said.
In relation to planned changes to the federal anti-discrimination act Ms Corbett said she thought organisations should be able to discriminate.
"I don't want gays, lesbians to be working in my kindergarten. If you don't like it go to another kindergarten," she told the Spectator.
When asked about her comments by Fairfax Media, Ms Corbett said gays and lesbians and paedophilies were "moral issues" saying she would rather spend her time talking about political and social issues.
Labor Senator Penny Wong responded to Ms Corbett's comments on Thursday morning, tweeting "Bigotry is not morality. And it has no place in today's Australia."
It is Ms Corbett's first foray into politics. Ms Corbett, who says she is over 60, has previously worked as a photographic processor, real estate agent and community services manager.
Ms Corbett was backed by another Katter's Australian Party candidate in Queensland. Senate candidate, Bernard Gaynor tweeted on Wednesday night that he didn't want homosexuals teaching his children and he's not afraid to say it.
Speaking on Melbourne radio on Thursday, Mr Gaynor said that he believed his views had widespread support because Australia was a Christian country.
''What we are talking about here is the right of a parent to have discretion over who teaches their children,'' he told Radio 3AW.
''It is a very big responsibility to educate a child and anyone who thinks a parent should not have that right, to choose who educates their child, is entering into very dangerous territory.''
Mr Gaynor said there were many other people he would not let educate his child.
''I'm a Catholic, so if someone was going to advocate a non-Catholic view, I wouldn't let them teach my child either and I think that anyone who said I didn't have that right to do that would really be infringing on the right of a parent to look after their children,'' he said
Mr Katter is on a whistlestop tour of Victoria – earlier this month he said he wanted to run a MP in every electorate at this year's federal election.
On Tuesday he attended a farmers rally in Warrnambool where he said candidates were already in place for 72 of the 86 seats in Queensland and that he was confident of having 20 branches up and running in Victoria by the end of next month.
Ms Corbett told Fairfax Media that she was attracted to the party because of Mr Katter's genuine love for Australia and its people.
"I admire the passion of the man," she told Fairfax. "He has become disillusioned with the major parties and the influence of the Greens."
Opposition to foreign ownership of agricultural land, the market domination of the supermarket giants and the selling off of state assets are major policies that Ms Corbett shares with the new party.
The Australian Party wants to reduce Coles and Woolworths market share down to 22 per cent.
Mr Tehan said the comments regarding homosexuals were a big test for Mr Katter.
"These comments are deplorable. They are bigoted and must be condemned," Mr Tehan said.
"If he stands by these comments from an endorsed candidate of his Party and fails to act, he deserves outright condemnation as well."
Mr Katter on Wednesday was asked about Ms Corbett's comments and told Fairfax Media that "he didn't talk about those things".
"If someone has made some statement like that, I'm bloody sure the party will be making arrangements," he said.
"The party is not interested in that, it never has been, never will be."
He said it angered him that media was interested in someone who had "made a very stupid statement" rather than looking issues such as the plight of farmers and manufacturing workers.
Asked about his party's chances at the election he said he did not like to predict, saying it was "up to the electors" but mentioned issues such as the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the treatment of embattled dairy farmers as issues that would resonate in Victoria.
Mr Katter lashed the federal Coalition for allowing the controversial river plan to be passed.
If he is to have electoral success in the state it is most likely to come in the Senate. Minor parties have a strong record in recent Victorian Senate races, with the Democratic Labor Party's John Madigan currently representing the state – he followed Family First Senator Steve Fielding.
As well as being an outspoken voice for rural issues Mr Katter also uses his voice to advocate for workers, particularly in manufacturing and he has good relationship with some unionists.
Katter’s Australian Party national director Adam McLindon told ABC Radio on Thursday morning that the matter would be reviewed by the party’s national executive but said Ms Corbett may have been taken out of context, adding the matter was a ''storm in a teacup''.
''‘There will obviously be things that go wrong in campaigns, that is the nature of politics,'' Mr McLindon said.
''The peripheral issues that the media obviously want to grab hold of, that’s fine everyone has got job to do, you have to put in context it really is a storm in a teacup, we have to get on with the real issues of about making sure families have a job, food on the table and a roof over their head.''
with AAP, Adrian Lowe