Zak Kirkup blocks candidate from speaking about pastor husband’s homophobic comments
West Australian Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup stepped in front of a candidate and refused to let her answer questions about her husband’s views on homosexuality during a car-crash press conference on Friday morning.
Mr Kirkup was in Bentley to discuss a $50 million manufacturing fund election commitment alongside Victoria Park Liberal candidate and intensive care nurse Amanda-Sue Markham.
Ms Markham was speaking about campaigning while working as a nurse on nightshift but in scenes reminiscent of when Prime Minister Scott Morrison grabbed headlines by interrupting Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston, Mr Kirkup jumped in to take over.
A Nine News Perth reporter asked Ms Markham whether she shared her pastor husband Cameron Markham’s public views that homosexuals can be “cleansed” and “healed”, and Mr Kirkup quickly stepped in to deflect the question.
“I think that it’s important we continue to talk about the critical strategic and manufacturing fund we’ve announced here today,” Mr Kirkup said when asked whether Ms Markham could speak for herself.
“We welcome Amanda-Sue talking about it and we will as time goes on, as she gets out there in the community, right across Victoria Park she is talking to as many people as possible right now.
“She just came off night shift and getting out there amongst the community, we’re here today to talk about the critical manufacturing and strategic fund to make sure we can help make sure WA is as resilient as possible into the future.”
Mr Markham’s views on homosexuality, pornography and marriage made headlines during the 2016 federal election when Ms Markham ran for the Liberals in the Tasmanian seat of Franklin.
Mr Markham had extensive posts on his personal blogs where he described homosexuality as ‘sinful’ and quotes Bible verses describing them as ‘degrading’ and ‘shameful’.
In a book written by Mr Markham, he also argued homosexuals could be “cleansed” and “healed” and stated a Christian woman would only marry a man who could lead her.
Mr Kirkup said he was not aware of Mr Markham’s views.
After reading up on Mr Markham’s comments, Mr Kirkup later held a second press conference without Ms Markham, where he said they were not views held by the party or any candidate.
He argued people running for the Liberals should not be held responsible for comments made by family members.
“I have to make the point though that [those comments were] made by a third party and not by a Liberal Party candidate and they absolutely do not represent the Liberal Party’s views and ultimately, more than anything, I just want to make it very clear the comments made there I’m not in any way in support of,” he said.
“I think we have to understand everyone is their own individual person and time to time there are people that have views like that that I don’t agree with but I don’t think you can associate that beyond the person that has expressed those views.”
When asked again whether Ms Markham would be free to express her views Mr Kirkup said he was speaking for the party.
“You have me here as the leader of the Liberal Party making it very very clear that it is not the position of the Liberal Party, it is not a view that I support or endorse in any way shape or form,” he said.
The Liberal Party’s candidate for Baldivis, Andrea Tokaji, quit the race on Wednesday after it was revealed she was peddling baseless conspiracy theories that 5G spread COVID-19 in an easily accessed blog post, prompting questions over the party’s vetting processes.
Mr Kirkup defended the process and said in Ms Markham’s case the vetting did not extend to family members.
“The vetting process understandably looks at the candidate themselves because the candidate is standing for election,” he said.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that it can go to each and every family member and cousin and son and daughter, that obviously brings with it inherent challenges and I suspect there is not a single person out there in WA who doesn’t have a family member who wouldn’t cause them concern and certainly they wouldn’t share every one of their views.”
Ms Markham is a former Christian Democrat candidate who stood for the party in the 2001 WA election before jumping ship to the Liberal Party in 2012.
WAtoday has reached out to Mr Kirkup’s office and Ms Markham for comment.
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