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

Dominic Giannini 12 August 2020 41

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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37 Responses to UPDATED: Coe concedes breakdown in Liberals’ vetting process after McKay dumped
Bek Clark Bek Clark 1:32 pm 12 Aug 20

You don’t say.

Kylie Wylie Kylie Wylie 1:34 pm 12 Aug 20

Oh really? Surprise us. I keep looking for a good alternative to voting Labor, but come up with NOTHING.

    Johnathan Davis MLA - Member for Brindabella Johnathan Davis MLA - Member for Brindabella 2:41 pm 12 Aug 20

    Kylie, luckily there is no such thing as a wasted vote in our system. The 5th seat in each of the 5 electorates is hotly contested among the minor parties and independents. If you issue a 1st preference vote for any one of these candidates (basically anyone other than Labor or Liberal) you send a strong message to them both that you want better. Then simply make sure that your old party of choice (the lesser of two evils some might say) is higher ranked than the other.

    Though, as a candidate myself, my advice may seem a little biased 😊

    Darron Marks Darron Marks 7:17 am 13 Aug 20

    The only real alternative is an independent but if you don't vote for one you will never get one !

Jason Ezra Jason Ezra 1:36 pm 12 Aug 20

Newsflash - Liberal vetting process doesn’t include Google search.

Simon Valentine Simon Valentine 1:41 pm 12 Aug 20

"Sorry, we thought he was just a bit racist and homophobic, not really racist and homophobic."

Tom Porter Tom Porter 1:46 pm 12 Aug 20

That is a sweet cop out. The ACT Canberra Liberals wouldn't be that big an organisation.

Nick Medveczky Nick Medveczky 2:00 pm 12 Aug 20

I didn’t think he was all that different from the other lib candidates.

Roderick Fraser Roderick Fraser 2:00 pm 12 Aug 20

When asked about their vetting process the LNP rep's first thoughts were 'but i've taken my dog to be chipped'!

Henry Rocek Henry Rocek 2:15 pm 12 Aug 20

How do they except us to trust them with government when they can’t even choose a candidate?

Paul Leins Paul Leins 2:28 pm 12 Aug 20

Translation: forgot to conceal homophobia until reaching a senate nomination

Larry Appley Larry Appley 2:37 pm 12 Aug 20

Perhaps if all he'd done was lose his license from repeated speeding offences, including through school zones, he would have been in line to get the Policing Portfolio?

Interesting standards indeed!

Wayne Palmer Wayne Palmer 2:42 pm 12 Aug 20

Could this be their vetting process?

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 2:57 pm 12 Aug 20

"When I said covertly xenophobic they thought I said overtly"

Mark Dawson Mark Dawson 3:02 pm 12 Aug 20

How did they not know about McKay's comments when they appear in the first few entries of a quick Google search. If they are incapable of such basic oversight, how can they be trusted to competently govern the ACT?

Paul Willemsen Paul Willemsen 3:12 pm 12 Aug 20

Start by getting a new campaign director, Josh Manuatu is an imbecile.

Alison Brittliff Alison Brittliff 3:19 pm 12 Aug 20

If the vetting process isn’t robust, then i wouldn’t expect much from there ability to run government

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. 🤔

David Brown David Brown 3:51 pm 12 Aug 20

I wonder when they will ever get vetting right?

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.

Christopher Rumley Christopher Rumley 4:52 pm 12 Aug 20

I thought that the views he expressed were party policy?

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.

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