AusOpinion Reblogged 25 – Homophobia, Aggression and Facebook – The Battle for Macquarie

And then there was Macquarie in 2013. This is another crucial seat for the 2016 election. If Labor can’t win Macquarie, they can’t win government.  This interest here was in the murky background to a Federal campaign and whether this kind of Facebook nastiness will occur next year as well.
Posted by prestontowers on September 5, 2013
There are those outside the seat of Macquarie who would think that it’s a fairly quiet seat – most of it is in the Blue Mountains, Vote Compass dubs it the second most left leaning Liberal held seat in the country.  There are, however, darker forces at work in the campaign.  Louise Markus, the existing Member for the seat, will be in trouble on election day. This is due partially to her living in Riverstone, which is in Greenway, her former electorate – which was redistributed as a Labor seat after the 2007 election. When she won Greenway in the 2004 election, it was a bitterly fought campaign, where Liberal supporters allegedly used the Muslim religion of Labor candidate Ed Husic against him.   There are many parochial residents of the Blue Mountains who have not appreciated having a local member who isn’t local.  Her campaign, too, has followed along similar western Sydney lines as the campaigns of Lindsay, Greenway and the rest, with Contracts and letters with little detail and local commitments included in them. This provides a problem in a seat with a different socio economic makeup than those seats.There is also the issue of her membership of the Hills District’s Pentecostal Hillsong Church, which is sometimes discussed by residents of an electorate where many are suspicious of the Hillsong church and its prosperity doctrine – in addition to its past homophobic activities and attitudes, including its links to the Mercy Ministries – even if the Chief Pastor, Brian Houston, isn’t explicit about their attitudes towards homosexuality.   This is not to say Markus’ Christian faith would necessarily the issue with such members of the community, it’s more the attitudes of the particular church of which she has been a member.   The issue of marriage equality is important to the people of Macquarie, especially with there being a thriving LGBTI community in the Blue Mountains.  The problem for Markus, however, is to avoid answering questions on the issue, considering that her party is keen to avoid discussing anything outside Stopping Things and Making Things Better.

wrote earlier about a Facebook reported incident where this happened between a voter and Markus during a door knock :

“She said her Party (Coalition) had a strong clear view on this issue and it would be unlikely she would change her mind,” he said. “I said ‘perhaps I could move to the UK where it’s legal’ and she said ‘perhaps you should move there”. 

That voter has now gone to the his local paper, the Hawkesbury Gazette, with the story.   It’s also reached the widely read Blue Mountains Gazette in the final week of the campaign.  The difficulty for Markus is that due to her links to Hillsong and its reputation will confirm any opinions that Markus herself is homophobic – even if that is not her personal view.

Another difficulty for Markus is that her Facebook page, like many others in this campaign, has flaws in it, especially from her supporters in the area. One such supporter, Matthew Breedon, was named in Markus’ Maiden Speech in Parliament in this way:

screen-shot-2013-09-04-at-10-41-19-pm1

This same Matthew Breedon is responsible for these comments, accessed from Markus’ campaign Facebook page by Twitter users @hawkesburyhound and @tiffanythetaxi – views that should have no place in a modern mainstream political party:

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It is also accessible via the web version:

screen-shot-2013-09-04-at-11-49-19-pm

As well as this comment to a Labor supporter:

screen-shot-2013-09-04-at-10-49-58-pm

It’s not fair to be, as many would be doing, damning Markus due to the comments of one of her supporters – no political campaigner should be held accountable if their supporters express such views.   A difficulty for Markus, however, is that anyone reading the article about her interaction with the gay voter, then going to her Facebook page, can find such material readily.  This provides a problem for Markus and her campaign team – especially if the one making the comments has had links to the Liberal Party.   There’s only so many generalised leaflets you can send to homes as a campaign strategy and hope it all goes well.  Issues like marriage equality are important and require sensitive treatment, especially in a seat like Macquarie.  Sometimes in campaigns there are dark undercurrents that leak out.  This is one of those occasions.

P.S. I thank Hawkesbury district tweeps @tiffanythetaxi and @hawkesburyhound for the information they supplied about the Facebook page.

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