Politics in Queanbeyan is going to be interesting this year.
Labor candidate Mike Kelly’s meet the people evening last week has been in the news a bit, after some Liberal shenanigans. Sitting member Gary Nairn’s adviser Mr Phelps attended the meeting and asked a series of antagonistic questions, without identifying himself as a political staffer.
Phelps was shouting and interrupting the meeting with questions about Iraq. Retired Colonel Mike Kelly has said that elements of the Iraq war were a mistake in hindsight. Phelps branded him a hypocrite for being part of something he didn’t agree with, and compared Kelly several times to a Nazi war criminal. On radio he sounded like a frothing at the mouth nutter – audible groans could be heard from the rest of the audience when he wouldn’t give up.
Mike Kelly coped well with the questions, calmly explaining international law as it relates to soldiers. So ultimately the stunt backfired.
Media attention has criticised Phelps for not revealing that he worked for Gary Nairn. And for saying that he was there as a private citizen, but then issuing an official press release continuing the debate. But there’s another question here – if Phelps is so anti-war that he thinks Mike Kelly should have become a deserter, why does he himself continue to work for the Liberal government who actually sent Australia into this war to begin with?