The Liberal candidate for Warringah, Katherine Deves, claims she has received death threats and had to relocate her family out of Sydney after backlash over her comments about transgender people.
“I have had to have the police and the AFP (Australian Federal Police) involved. My safety has been threatened, my family are away out of Sydney because I don’t want them to witness what I’m going through and nor do I want their safety put at risk,” Ms Deves said.
She said she was “as shocked as anyone” when she was parachuted in as the Warringah candidate by Mr Morrison, overriding the typical pre-selection process to the chagrin of the local branch of the Liberal party.
In response to criticisms that she was installed not to win the seat but to bolster Mr Morrison’s support amongst conservative voters elsewhere in the country, Ms Deves said “I would not have done (this) if I did not sincerely believe that I had a chance”.
Some of Ms Deves’ most hurtful comments include saying transgender children are surgically mutilated and sterilised, and comparing her advocacy against transgender people competing in women’s sports to taking a stand against the Nazis during the Holocaust.
When asked if she understood the hurt she had caused, Ms Deves appeared to attribute some blame on the social media sites where she posted her comments.
“I have been very chastened by this process,” she said.
“I recognise that trying to prosecute arguments about complex, nuanced and difficult subjects … it should not take place on a platform that propagates offence and division and hurt, and going forward I will be conducting myself in a dignified and respectful fashion.”
Multiple senior figures inside the Liberal party have called for Ms Deves to be disendorsed as the candidate.
Mr Morrison has refused to be swayed, continuously reaffirming his support for Ms Deves.
Warringah is currently held by independent Zali Steggall, who ousted Mr Abbott in 2019.