A Labor party staffer who labelled Canning MP Andrew Hastie a “homophobe” during a speech at a Peel Pride ‘yes’ campaign event in Mandurah on Saturday night now says he can’t remember making the comments.
Andy Skinner, a staffer for Labor Senator Louise Pratt and president of Rainbow Labor, said the same sex marriage postal survey had been “extremely hurtful” and “s**t”.
“I just want to point out that your local member, the member for Canning Andrew Hastie, he voted for this, he voted for the postal survey because he is a homophobe,” Mr Skinner told the Pride in Peel event before introducing the drag queens billed as entertainment.
“He [Mr Hastie] doesn’t respect your love and I want to pay kudos to [Mandurah MP] David Templeman, your state member, who does respect your love.”
Mr Skinner described Mr Templeman, a sponsor of the event, as a “long time supporter of marriage equality and LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex] rights in this state”.
“I am disappointed that people like Andrew Hastie get a platform to tell us that our children aren’t loved in the same way that children from nuclear families are loved,” he said.
But on Monday, Mr Skinner said he didn’t remember calling Mr Hastie a homophobe.
“I don’t know him so I wouldn’t want to label him personally,” Mr Skinner said.
“I definitely didn’t intend to, so I don’t think that I did, but I’d hate to think that that was what was said.”
However, footage of the speech shows him making the comments.
Mr Skinner said he was asked to speak at the event by an organiser and was not speaking on behalf of the Labor party or Senator Pratt’s office.
This is despite telling those present that while he didn’t “technically” speak for the Labor party, “I am a member and I work for our wonderful Labor senator Louise Pratt, whose been fighting for marriage equality for about 20 years”.
Mr Hastie said the views of people on both sides of the postal survey debate should be treated with respect.
“I don’t care what Rainbow Labor thinks or says about me,” he said.
“But I do care about the thousands of respectful ‘no’ voters – are they homophobes too?
“This sort of intolerance highlights the need for robust protections for freedom of conscience, speech, religion and parental rights if the ‘yes’ campaign is successful.”
Mr Templeman said he would remain focused on local issues, such as job creation, instead of “commenting on one person’s opinion of another”.
“I had a number of events to attend that evening and did call into this event briefly,” he said.
“My view has always been that this issue should have been resolved in the Federal Parliament rather than through an expensive $120 million postal survey.”
But Mr Hastie said he was surprised Mr Templeman did not condemn Mr Skinner’s remarks.
“He was the special guest and sponsor of the event,” Mr Hastie said.
“Does he support this intolerance too? He should make his position clear.”
Mr Hastie said the same sex marriage postal survey already had a higher voter turnout than the 2016 US Presidential election, the Irish same-sex marriage referendum and UK Brexit poll.
“It is trending towards 80 percent,” he said.
“People on both sides want their say and should be given respect.”
Senator Pratt distanced herself from Mr Skinner’s remarks, and said he was not representing her or Rainbow Labor.
But she said Mr Hastie was “out of touch” on the issue of same sex marriage and “throwing all his political energy behind his own radical right wing ideological agenda”.
“I have been contacted by a number of gay and lesbian people in the electorate of Canning who have been deeply hurt by the letters he has written directly addressed to them urging them to oppose marriage equality,” she said.
“I am certainly not surprised that opposition to his views was a feature at the local Pride event which I hear was a great success.”