Supporters of ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja have attached to the dashboard of one of their campaign vehicles text on a photograph of his key opponent, Greens candidate Christina Hobbs, saying she wants “a railing” (slang for violent sex), sparking social media outrage and calls for an apology on the eve of the Federal election.
A photograph of Ms Hobbs’ fellow Greens candidate Carly Saeedi also appears on the dashboard with the words, “I’ll give your refugee a loving home.”
Ms Hobbs has posted video of the Seselja campaign van on her Facebook page showing the offending material in position on the dashboard. She was alerted to the material via a tweet. The Greens have described the material as a “rape joke” on their Facebook feed.
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“Last night I was tweeted at by a young woman who was walking home past Senator Seselja’s office when she spotted his campaign mini-van parked out the front with disturbing images of me and the Greens’ candidate for Fenner taped to the front dashboard with vile and sexist comments,” Ms Hobbs wrote on Facebook.
“The comment attached to my image included the phrase that “I want a railing”, the word “railing” being a term for violent sex, often associating with rape.
“I’m sure this was all intended as a joke, but in 2016, it’s just not funny.”
Ms Hobbs added that having put her hand up for public office, she had expected a certain level harassment.
“When you’re a female candidate you understand it’s going to be particularly vile and often sexual in nature. But what you don’t expect, is that your male political opponent is somehow going to be “in on the joke” – busing around a group of young men who seem set on harassment and intimidation.
“Throughout this campaign both me and my campaign team have put up with aggressive behaviour by a group of young men dressed in “Team Zed” jackets being bused around who I understand are largely from interstate.”
Ms Hobbs said it was ironic that today, on the last day of the campaign, she was due to announce a policy to reduce violence against women and support domestic violence survivors.
She also said Senator Seselja had been seen climbing in and out of the offending van this week.
Labor Senator Katy Gallagher has shared Ms Hobbs’ post and added her own words of support, saying the incident was “simply appalling” and could not be excused or ignored by Senator Seselja.
“He should immediately apologise to Christina Hobbs and explain exactly why this material, openly and violently degrading a female candidate, was in his campaign bus,” Senator Gallagher said.
RiotACT contacted Mr Seselja for comment and received the following statement from Canberra Liberals President Arthur Potter in response:
“Zed has unequivocally condemned this type of juvenile behaviour, it is absolutely unacceptable and we have no time for it. Zed has apologised for any offence caused and has spoken to all campaign volunteers regarding this matter.”