Conservative activist group Advance Australia has been accused of sexism and poor taste after it released a video of its "satirical superhero" Captain GetUp gyrating and rubbing against a poster of independent Warringah candidate Zali Steggall.
The video, released on the official "Captain GetUp!" Twitter account on Sunday evening, showed the caped conservative crusader in front of a large billboard with Ms Steggall's photograph cropped next to a photograph of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Captain GetUp - who is named after his nemesis, the left-wing activist group - is seen rubbing himself against Ms Steggall's face to a soundtrack of pacey electronic dance music. The video has since been removed.
"I think there is a level of sexualisation with that, which is inappropriate," Ms Steggall said.
"There is no place for that kind of behaviour in the 21st century. It is disrespectful, it's inappropriate."
Ms Steggall said the people behind the group Advance Australia "are all members of the Liberal Party" and they "openly endorse Tony Abbott", a former prime minister and the sitting MP in Warringah.
She called upon Mr Abbott and Prime Minister Scott Morrison to "call out" the video.
"As a mum of teenage kids I am acutely aware of the need to set the standard about the sort of behaviour that is unacceptable. It doesn't matter if we agree on issues, there should be standards."
Advance Australia is a conservative activist group founded by wealthy business leaders including "storage king" Sam Kennard, former ABC chairman Maurice Newman and the Australian Jewish Association's Dr David Adler.
Advance Australia says it is not aligned to any political party. Its national director, Gerard Benedet, is a former staffer with the former Queensland LNP government.
Mr Benedet said: "Advance Australia has removed the video, as it was posted in error.
The video was posted to the Captain Getup! Twitter account, and appeared on the character's official Facebook page as a "sponsored" post, suggesting it was a deliberately placed advertisement.
"Captain GetUp wanted to let people know that a vote for Zali Steggall is a vote for Bill Shorten," Mr Benedet said in a statement.
"Advance Australia does not endorse members or candidates.
"None of our board members are from a political party and our advisory council is made up of a wide range of people who have differing political opinions but are united in their opposition to big government, increased taxes and political correctness."
A spokeswoman for non-partisan and independent women's lobby group WomenVote said: "This kind of demeaning and sexist treatment of women candidates has no place in Australia and we look forward to a chorus of condemnation from our political leaders."
The battle for Warringah is one of the most-watched contests of the 2019 election campaign, with Mr Abbott under threat from Ms Steggall, a former champion Olympic skier and family law barrister.
The activist group GetUp is campaigning strongly in the seat, asking voters to oust Mr Abbott, who has held the blue ribbon seat since 1994.
Advance Australia is campaigning against Ms Steggall.
Over the weekend, conservative News Corp columnist Piers Akerman was pictured in campaign materials for Mr Abbott's campaign, wearing a "Tony Abbott for Warringah" T-shirt.
Akerman rejected impressions of of journalistic bias, saying he was there as an "independent Australian and private citizen".
The picture was later removed from Mr Abbott's Twitter account.
Mr Abbott's media adviser did not respond to requests for comment.
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