Canberra Liberals election candidate Peter McKay has resigned over comments condemning the Welcome to Country ceremony and alleging the ACT's "homosexual chief minister" influenced a police investigation.
Opposition Leader Alistair Coe said Mr McKay's comments, which were published in a submission to the federal government's religious freedoms inquiry in 2018, did not "accord with the standards that I expect of our Liberal team".
"Accordingly, earlier today I sought Mr McKay's resignation as a candidate which has since been tendered and accepted," Mr Coe said in a statement.
"This prompt and decisive action underscores the seriousness in which I have taken this matter."
Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Mr McKay's comments were a sad reflection of the Canberra Liberals' views.
The ex-army officer and public servant has been rushed in to contest the seat of Kurrajong as a replacement for Vijay Dubey, who resigned from the party ticket amid a falling out with party officials.
Mr McKay was endorsed on Sunday night, meaning his candidacy lasted less than 48 hours.
In his submission to the religious freedoms review, Mr McKay said the ACT had been subject to "religious terrorism" in recent years. He said authorities had deemed it inappropriate to "profile" individuals despite their "clear association with certain ideologies".
He suggested this attitude framed how ACT authorities responded when a man drove a van packed with gas cylinders into the Australian Christian Lobby's Deakin offices in December 2016.
The lobby's then managing director, Lyle Shelton, said the incident took place in the context of attacks against the group.
But ACT Policing said there was no political, religious or ideological motivation behind the explosion, and believed the man's primary motivation had been suicide. The man killed himself in September 2017, with his lawyer saying the nature of the man's death was further evidence that the alleged offence was related to mental health.
In his submission, Mr McKay said the police's assertion that the incident was related to mental health was "fake news".
"Within the 24 hours of the attack the ACT police influenced by the homosexual Chief Minister and the strong lesbian influence in the ACT police (yes, I could provide some names) dismissed the attack on religious thought by describing the cause as a mental health issue," Mr McKay said.
"This was 'false news' and diminishes trust in our authorities."
In the submission, Mr McKay likened the Welcome to Country acknowledgment to "animist", or spiritual, traditions around the world, which he said should be "condemned".
"The Welcome to Country ceremony does not accord with aboriginal practice and is a misrepresentation," Mr McKay wrote.
"The last one I attended included the acknowledgment and worship of aboriginal ancestors. This is similar to a number of animistic religions around the world. These religions did not result in the benefits of development that emanates from western civilisation."
Asked to respond to Mr McKay's claims about its approach to the Australian Christian Lobby explosion, ACT Policing sent a link to an August 2017 statement, which reiterated that it believed the man's motivation was suicide.
Mr McKay's submission was easily accessible via a Google search, raising serious questions about how thoroughly the Liberals vetted the candidate before he was endorsed.
In a statement announcing Mr McKay's endorsement on Sunday afternoon, Mr Manuatu said the Liberals were fortunate to have a candidate of such a high calibre join the party's team.
Mr McKay also made a submission to an ACT Legislative Assembly inquiry into sex workers in 2011, in which he claimed causal sex was a health hazard, called for a judicial probe of the sector and argued for a crackdown on advertisements in newspapers and on billboards.
He also argued in the submission that sex workers threatened committed relationships, with resulting separations creating a need for more housing which, in turn, caused on drain on the ACT government's budget.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Barr said it would be "absolute confirmation" that Mr McKay's views were shared by his colleagues if the party didn't dump him from their ticket.
"I think it is a sad reflection of the values of the Canberra Liberals. This is now mainstream opinion within that political party. It is very, very regrettable," Mr Barr said.
"Those values are the values of the Canberra Liberals. That is loud and clear."
The Australian Federal Police Association welcomed Mr Coe's decision to sack Mr McKay.
"Comments made by Mr McKay are not supported by the AFPA and are harmful and insensitive towards the LGBTQI and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community which the AFPA supports," spokesman Troy Roberts said.
"His comments regarding the Australian Christian Lobby investigation are incorrect.
"We have a good relationship with the Canberra Liberals, and this will continue. We welcome the positive leadership taken by Mr Coe and the Canberra Liberals in seeking and obtaining Mr McKay's resignation as a candidate in the upcoming ACT election."