Katter Party candidate: 'I love my gay friends'
Bob Katter has welcomed a new Australian Party Senate candidate who is in favour of gay marriage and who says he loves his gay friends as well as his redneck friends.
The endorsement of Stephen Bailey, reported by Canberra’s 2CC radio, immediately drew criticism from recently ousted candidate Bernard Gaynor and prompted the My Sunshine Coast website to describe it as a “stunning backflip” on gay marriage.
Bailey, a 29-year-old Canberra-based theatre director, told Queensland Pride his inclusion will strengthen the party.
“I love my gay friends and I love my redneck friends,” Bailey said, adding he did not agree with Bernard Gaynor that his candidacy will damage the party. “He doesn’t have anything to offer modern Australia,” he said. “There’s nothing that Bernie Gaynor’s intellect can elucidate to the greater good of the Australian public.
“What this party supports is a great nation building project for Australia, and that’s for all Australians. I have a different view and I’m not asking people to agree with me I’m just asking people to accept that view. It’s not my intention to dramatically change the party and I don’t think I am."
Bailey has lived in Canberra since the age of 16. “I’m a community arts practitioner,” he says. “I was artist in residence at Griffith Regional Theatre in 2009, where I wrote and directed a musical for the community and got about 200 volunteers contributing to that.”
Asked if his experience working in the arts contrasted with party leader Bob Katter’s, Bailey denied Katter had led an isolated life.
“Bob is an inspiring man, he’s gushing with history, humour and vision. He’s got many competing priorities and I accept people from all walks of life and that’s what politicians need to do.”
Commenting on the candidacy, Bob Katter said he wanted his party to include a diverse range of people.
"Particularly young people, I always find talking to young people very exciting and Steven would be a very good example of that kind of person," Katter said.
According to mysunshinecoast.com.au, Bernard Gaynor claimed Katter’s endorsement of Bailey would “cause bloodshed in every branch”.
Gaynor said he found it “ironic” he had been ousted for “supporting [the party’s] core principles”.
Gaynor was dropped as a candidate after supporting fellow ex-candidate Tess Corbett, who suggested homosexuality was akin to paedophilia, and paedophiles would ''be next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians and get rights''.
Gaynor responded that he would not allow a gay or lesbian person to teach his children, which lead to his dis-endorsement. He maintains he was merely stressing that parents should have a say in who teaches their children and that opposition to same-sex marriage is part of “social family values”.
"His [Katter’s] decision [to endorse Bailey] violates the core values of the party he founded and has already begun causing huge ructions,” Gaynor said.
“I've been informed numerous resignations have already occurred today over the party's new direction."
Meanwhile the Brisbane Times reports Gaynor – who is a member of the Army Reserve – may face discipline from the Defence Force.
The newspaper reported that a “hot issue brief” from the Defence Force stated ''The member's chain of command is seeking legal advice in relation to administrative action […] designed to admonish and correct unsatisfactory or unacceptable performance''.