IN a little over a month Katherine Deves' life has changed in every way. As recently as April 1, she was simply a mum of three from North Manly on Sydney's northern beaches who'd found the love of her life in tree lopper David and they were busy planning a life and wedding together.
On April 2, not long after joining the Liberal Party as a member, she was announced as the Liberals candidate for Warringah. The aim was to take the seat back from independent Zali Steggall, who'd won it in spectacular fashion from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the 2019 federal election.
Since her now-deleted controversial Tweets in which she described transgender children as "surgically mutilated and sterilised" were made public, everything has changed.
Deves, 44, said she received death threats, and was so fearful for the safety of her daughters - eight-year-old twins and her youngest daughter, aged six - that she sent them away from their home.
Sections of the media camped outside her home. Her family and friends have been chased by journalists and photographers in Sydney, interstate and across the other side of the world. Persecution of the embattled Liberals candidate has been so constant that she now has 24 hour security and can't leave her own home without her bodyguards trailing behind her.
On the day we met Deves, in a discreet corner of a northern beaches park, her eagle-eyed security guard stood just metres away, watching everyone coming and going.
"I don't think anyone can be prepared for such a media onslaught, and it was so rapid and so intense that I think it took everyone by surprise," she said. "I went from simply being the candidate, to being the best-known candidate national second only to the prime minister.
"It's one thing for me to put my hand up and put myself forward for public life, but when it involves your children and your broader family, who are now finding themselves in the media, it feels like there are no longer any boundaries and nothing is sacred."
One morning, she alleges the media chased her while she was driving - and she thought, "this is dreadful, no wonder people like Britney Spears or Princess Diana could not cope because they had decades of it."
All the while her partner David, a former police officer who she met at Manly's Wharf Bar 10 years ago, has stood by her.
"He is a devoted father and is a partner who's stood by me without question throughout all our marital ups and downs, and has believed in me when I haven't believed in myself," she said. "He has been my biggest champion and I could not do this without him."
Despite the fallout and the "dark moments", of which Deves admitted there have been many, she has refused to stand aside.
"It simply motivated me to continue to stand up because I thought 'if they are coming after me like this, what are they so afraid of? Are they afraid of me? Are they afraid of my voice? Are they afraid of what I am saying?'"
Deves told the Northern Beaches Review that she does not regret her comments, but rather the "inappropriate language" she used.
"When we are discussing complex and nuanced and highly emotive topics, I have very much learnt that Twitter is not the place to do it," she said. "I certainly did not mean to cause anybody hurt, but when things are taken out of context it certainly inflames what is already a highly emotive debate.
"Some of the issues that I were talking about, they are confronting. They are offensive because they concern bodily integrity and safeguarding and when things are de-contextualized they can absolutely give the impression that you are trivialising serious issues, it can easily cause offence."
While Deves doesn't have a personal connection with transgender rights in sport, she felt nobody was standing up for the rights of girls and women on the issue.
"Now that I've been given a chance to actually talk about my platform for Warringah I think the narrative has definitely changed," she said.
Deves said people are concerned about a range of issues, including cost of living pressures, interest rates and food prices and inflation. Small businesses are looking for support and help in finding and retaining staff. There's also worries from the public on health service and staffing levels, as well as infrastructure and the Beaches Tunnel.
"With respect to staffing issues, that's definitely something that I'd like to take to Canberra to try figure out how we can help those people. We've also reduced taxes, keeping the tax rates low for small business to ensure that they can put that money back into their own cash flow," she said.
"The broad focus for the Liberal party at a national level is very much cost of living and also national security."
With three young daughters, climate change is important to Deves, but she said the government has the right policies in place. "The Morrison government has committed to net zero in 2050," she said.
"It's an issue that traverses every aspect of our national interests, it's not just the environment, it's not just emissions, it's also national security, it's economic security, it's social security and we need to take into consideration all of those aspects.
"We need to have effective policies in place to address climate change, that is not going to bring the economy to its knees and we prefer to do it with technology not taxes."
My world has changed dramatically from where it was four weeks ago, but we humans we're quite resilient and we're quite adaptable and I'm very much concentrating on job.
With the federal election fast approaching, Deves said it's been an honour to talk to so many Warringah residents.
"If I am voted in as the member, what an honour it is and how much responsibility I will have to have in Canberra for them and I concentrate on that," she said.
"My world has changed dramatically from where it was four weeks ago, but we humans we're quite resilient and we're quite adaptable and I'm very much concentrating on job."
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