UPDATED: Coe concedes breakdown in Liberals’ vetting process after McKay dumped

Dominic Giannini 12 August 2020 39

Canberra Liberals’ leader Alistair Coe conceded there was a problem with the party’s vetting procedure. Photo: Region Media.

Canberra Liberals’ leader Alistair Coe has admitted there was a “breakdown” in the party’s vetting system after Peter McKay was disendorsed as a candidate for his comments about Indigenous acknowledgement of country and a homosexual “bias” in ACT Policing.

The vetting process for Mr McKay – who replaced Kurrajong candidate Vijay Dubey after he was dumped in July – was different from those who were preselected at the end of last year, Mr Coe said.

The original 25 candidates were all vetted both internally by the Liberal Party and by an external vetting agency. Region Media understands that Mr McKay was not subject to the same external process as he had previously stood as a Liberal candidate.

“There has been a breakdown in the system, that is obvious. It is very regrettable; I wish this had not happened. I wish the offence had not been caused,” Mr Coe told ABC Radio.

“There are some issues with the vetting process – I was not aware of these comments. I was not aware that this was [his] view.

“It is not good enough, it is disrespectful, it is not up to community standards, it is not up to the Canberra Liberals’ standards and it is not up to my standards.”

READ MORE: Liberals dump Kurrajong candidate

Mr McKay – who was also a Canberra Liberals candidate in 2016 – condemned the ACT Government’s adoption of Acknowledgement of Country in his submission to the religious freedom review in 2018.

“The government’s adoption of animistic religious practices is to be condemned. The welcome to country ceremony does not accord with aboriginal practice and is a misrepresentation,” Mr McKay wrote in his 2200-word submission.

“The last one I attended included the acknowledgement and worship of aboriginal ancestors. This is similar to a number of animistic religions around the world.”

Peter McKay

Peter McKay was dumped by the party two days after being officially endorsed when his comments were revealed in the media. Photo: Supplied.

Mr McKay also singled out Chief Minister Andrew Barr – Australia’s first openly gay head of government – when criticising how authorities handled an attack on the Australian Christian Lobby’s office in Deakin in December 2016.

“In the case of the ACT all same-sex advocates are not the same,” he wrote.

“The man that used six gas bottles to bomb a secluded Christian organisation in Canberra had worked as an advocate in the USA yet the within 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,” he wrote.

Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the Liberals have transitioned to an ultra-conservative party. Photo: Region Media.

Responding to the comments, Mr Barr said the selection of people like Mr McKay highlights the values of the Canberra Liberals.

“He is not the only candidate that hold views like that and so to the extent that his candidacy and his views now get a public airing, and give people an understanding of what underpins the Canberra Liberals’ approach to public policy, approach to minority groups is pretty alarming,” he said.

“This is a candidate whose values, whose stated opinions on those issues and others – a quick Google search will identify some quick extreme ultra-conservative views on many issues – reflect the rank and file of the Canberra Liberal party and what has happened to what once was a liberal party is now an ultra-conservative party.”

However, this was rejected by Mr Coe who said Mr McKay’s submission and views led to his prompt and decisive action to demand his resignation.

“His comments and the sentiments he has expressed are not consistent with my views nor with the Canberra Liberals which is why we have made a decision that he will no longer be a candidate for the Canberra Liberals at the election,” he said.

“I very much believe in an inclusive Canberra, one that values everybody. I have taken decisive action and we will make sure that we will do better in the future.”

When asked whether Canberrans could have confidence is the Liberals’ vetting process, Mr Coe said “the Canberra community can be very confident that when a candidate does not meet Canberra Liberals’ standards, does not meet Canberra community standards, or does not meet my standards, they will not be in my team”.

The Canberra Liberals will run a replacement candidate, who will be announced in the upcoming weeks, Mr Coe confirmed.

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39 Responses to UPDATED: Coe concedes breakdown in Liberals’ vetting process after McKay dumped
Kim Kim 7:00 pm 18 Aug 20

Zed Seselja and his puppet Alistair Coe are attempting to move the Canberra Liberals to the far right and this little exercise has backfired with Zed, Alistair and Candice Burch the main architects for McKay’s candidacy. Why are the media reporting that Alistair Coe has taken decisive action in dumping Peter McKay when McKay’s right ring views and prejudices are widely known both within and outside the Liberal Party? And why are your media organisations simply accepting Alistair Coe’s excuse for Peter McKay’s dumping as poor vetting?

Hans Dimpel Hans Dimpel 1:15 pm 16 Aug 20

I don't think it would even occur to well-adjusted people to even wonder if there is a homosexual bias in ACT policing. What a weird thing to even pop into someone's head. It's like they are obsessed and fantasise ...?

Soli Turnbull Soli Turnbull 12:31 pm 16 Aug 20

No vetting because it's what they believe....

Acton Acton 7:40 am 16 Aug 20

If a candidate does not meet Mr Coe’s standards then Mr Coe should be disqualifying himself, because clearly his own performance has been sub-standard by all measures. He is unelectable and must recognise this for the good of his party, the electorate and the future of the city. Canberra for many many reasons needs to replace Labor/Greens with a viable alternative. Hanson would have a better chance.

    Mike Stelzig - Canberra Progressives for Yerrabi Mike Stelzig - Canberra Progressives for Yerrabi 5:40 pm 18 Aug 20

    Actually, there is a viable alternative, in fact seven of them: Mike Stelzig, Bethany Williams, Robert Knight, Therese Faulkner, Tim Böhm, Peta Swarbrick and Stephen Lin. We are candidates for the Canberra Progressives party. We are not in bed with unions, big business, lobby groups or overseas powers. We are Canberrans who want you to take back power and true democracy. We are here and ready to be elected. As always, we can lead the horse to water but can’t make it drink. If you vote the same, you get the same. Our slogan is “Demand Better”. So, seriously, the only way to get the people a say in how the ACT is run is to elect normal folks like us.

Kerri Hallas Kerri Hallas 6:33 am 16 Aug 20

They aren’t having much luck with this, are they? 2/2 now! 🤔🤭😉

Jim Jim Jim Jim 8:45 pm 13 Aug 20

Everyone should be extremely concerned. A weak opposition means a weak government. You cannot suggest that the current crew are doing a fab job, just the opposition are struggling to offer a viable alternative.

Phil Essam Phil Essam 1:23 pm 13 Aug 20

Due diligence?

Brisal Brisal 11:39 am 13 Aug 20

Well, that didn’t take long. A week is a long time in politics, goes the saying? That’s going to need to be revised down somewhat.

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 3:29 am 13 Aug 20

These days the ACT Liberals are basically irrelevant.

Mac John Mac John 10:23 pm 12 Aug 20

You people endorsed a candidate representing your so called liberal values: then sacked him. Does this mean the canberra liberals are deeply divided over these issues to the extent this has interfered with policy development?

Ian McDonald Ian McDonald 9:34 pm 12 Aug 20

It appears that nobody learns.

Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins 9:09 pm 12 Aug 20

I guess that is how they ended up with Coe as there leader... 🤔

Joanne Mitchell Joanne Mitchell 9:02 pm 12 Aug 20

Oh dear !

Fred Pilcher Fred Pilcher 6:04 pm 12 Aug 20

They must be disappointed. He was definitely leadership material.

David Perkins David Perkins 5:27 pm 12 Aug 20

ACT Libs are right-wing ratbag no-hopers

Alex Satrapa Alex Satrapa 5:00 pm 12 Aug 20

This is what we call a "trial balloon". You float an idea to see how it goes, then when people don't like it you can shoot it down yourself and float another slightly less offensive balloon.

Christopher Rumley Christopher Rumley 4:52 pm 12 Aug 20

I thought that the views he expressed were party policy?

Beth Mansfield Beth Mansfield 4:41 pm 12 Aug 20

The Canberra liberals seem to be heavily influenced by the weirder of the Christian fundamentalists, which is always going to play badly in Canberra.

David Brown David Brown 3:51 pm 12 Aug 20

I wonder when they will ever get vetting right?

Geoff Richardson Geoff Richardson 3:32 pm 12 Aug 20

IMO the apparent lack of vetting of potential candidates indicates their desperation to find candidates!!

    Callum Bowen Callum Bowen 8:59 pm 12 Aug 20

    Apparently you can buy preselection for a $3000 party donation.

    Callum Bowen Callum Bowen 11:29 am 13 Aug 20

    Once you’re on the ticket, sure. But word is that the Libs are so desperate for actual candidates they can field (you know, without having to disendorse them again within a day) that you can buy your way straight to preselection. 🤔

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