Katter party hopeful in gay furore

BOB Katter's new Australian Party's foray into Victoria for the federal election has hit controversy with a candidate likening gays and lesbians to paedophiles.

Tess Corbett, from Lake Bolac, is challenging Liberal MP Dan Tehan for the seat on behalf of the party.

In an interview with The Hamilton Spectator Ms Corbett said she considered gay people to be in the same category as paedophiles.

"Paedophiles will be next in line to be recognised in the same way as gays and lesbians and get rights," she said.

In relation to planned changes to the federal anti-discrimination act Ms Corbett said she thought organisations should be able to discriminate.

"I don't want gays, lesbians to be working in my kindergarten. If you don't like it go to another kindergarten," she told the Spectator.

When asked about her comments by Fairfax Media, Ms Corbett said gays and lesbians and paedophilies were "moral issues" saying she would rather spend her time talking about political and social issues.

It is Ms Corbett, who says she is over 60, first foray into politics. She has previously worked as a photographic processor, real estate agent and community services manager.

Mr Katter is on a whistlestop tour of Victoria – earlier this month he said he wanted to run a MP in every electorate at this year's federal election.

On Tuesday he attended a farmers rally in Warrnambool where he said candidates were already in place for 72 of the 86 seats in Queensland and that he was confident of having 20 branches up and running in Victoria by the end of next month.

Ms Corbett told Fairfax Media that she was attracted to the party because of Mr Katter's genuine love for Australia and its people.

"I admire the passion of the man," she told Fairfax. "He has become disillusioned with the major parties and the influence of the Greens."

Opposition to foreign ownership of agricultural land, the market domination of the supermarket giants and the selling off of state assets are major policies that Ms Corbett shares with the new party.

The Australian Party wants to reduce Coles and Woolworths market share down to 22 per cent.

Mr Tehan said the comments regarding homosexuals were a big test for Mr Katter.

"These comments are deplorable. They are bigoted and must be condemned," Mr Tehan said.

"If he stands by these comments from an endorsed candidate of his Party and fails to act, he deserves outright condemnation as well."

Mr Katter on Wednesday was asked about Ms Corbett's comments and told Fairfax Media that "he didn't talk about those things".

"If someone has made some statement like that, I'm bloody sure the party will be making arrangements," he said.

"The party is not interested in that, it never has been, never will be."

He said it angered him that media was interested in someone who had "made a very stupid statement" rather than looking issues such as the plight of farmers and manufacturing workers.

Asked about his party's chances at the election he said he did not like to predict, saying it was "up to the electors" but mentioned issues such as the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and the treatment of embattled dairy farmers as issues that would resonate in Victoria.

Mr Katter lashed the federal Coalition for allowing the controversial river plan to be passed.

If he is to have electoral success in the state it is most likely to come in the Senate. Minor parties have a strong record in recent Victorian Senate races, with the Democratic Labor Party's John Madigan currently representing the state – he followed Family First Senator Steve Fielding.

As well as being an outspoken voice for rural issues Mr Katter also uses his voice to advocate for workers, particularly in manufacturing and he has good relationship with some unionists.

Katter's Australian Party national director Aidan McLindon has been contacted for comment.

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