An irritated Scott Morrison told reporters to not interrupt him as he defended controversial Liberal candidate Katherine Deves during a heated press conference.
The prime minister stood by his decision to select Ms Deves as the candidate for Warringah, a key electorate on Sydney‘s northern beaches.
Ms Deves has come under fire for her comments about transgender people, her opposition to them competing in female sport and her comparison between anti-trans activism and standing up to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.
‘We may not always agree, but when we disagree, it is important that we disagree better,’ Mr Morrison said on Saturday.
‘And so I think the comments that Katherine has made obviously were insensitive and she has admitted that.’
A journalist then interrupted the prime minister before Mr Morrison snapped back.
Scott Morrison has defended controversial Liberal candidate Katherine Deves before telling reporters to not interrupt him during a heated press conference
Ms Deves has come under fire for her comments about transgender people, her opposition to them competing in female sport and her comparison between anti-trans activism and standing up to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany
‘No, no, I’m still answering the question,’ he said.
‘Katherine has been saying there have been ways she has prosecuted her case of which she is very passionate about.
‘This is a woman standing up for women and girls in sport. That is the primary issue she has raised. There are ways she has expressed in the past that she no longer feels comfortable with.’
Another journalist tried to cut in prompting Mr Morrison to speak over them.
‘I haven’t finished this,’ he said. ‘It is important she understand that and learns those lessons which she has.’
Mr Morrison drew comparisons to the allegations of bullying made within the Labor Party.
‘Mean girls’ senators Penny Wong, Kristina Keneally and Katy Gallagher were accused of bullying the late MP Kimberley Kitching.
‘We have seen female members of our Parliament who have had to apologise for the way they’ve spoken to other women in Parliament about not being able to have children,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘We may not always agree, but when we disagree, it is important that we disagree better,’ Mr Morrison said on Saturday
Mr Morrison with Liberal member for Chisholm Gladys Liu during a visit to Wallies Lollies in Box Hill, Melbourne, on Saturday
‘They have given those apologies in good faith and they have learned from those experiences, and I know Katherine has learned from those experiences.’
‘What I’m saying is that when you are going into public life, which Katherine is seeing to do, a strong woman standing up for things she believes in, for women and girls in sport, which is a sensitive issue in so many communities, but it has to be done respectfully.’
Mr Morrison was grilled by reporters who demanded why he was standing by the controversial candidate.
‘She is the captain’s pick and you are the captain,’ a reporter said. ‘Would any other candidate be disendorsed by this, or is the reason she hasn’t been dis-endorsed because she is running for Warringah?’
Mr Morrison said Ms Deves had been apologetic and addressed her comments,
‘Well, she has acknowledged that she has been insensitive and she has done that and that is the right way to respect the trans-community and I don’t share those sentiments either,’ he said.
‘But what I do know is that in life people learn things along the way and as they learn thing as long the way, they learn how to be a better member of Parliament and what is a more respectful way to prosecute the cases that they seek to do in public life.’
Mr Morrison carries a box filled with treats as he leaves Wallies Lollies at Box Hill in Melbourne
Mr Morrison said he was siding with former prime minister Tony Abbott in not participating on a ‘pile-on’ of Ms Deves, rather than supporting the comments of NSW Liberal treasurer Matt Kean.
Mr Kean said Ms Deves should be disendorsed as the Liberal candidate in Warringah.
‘She’s got to go,’ Mr Kean said.
‘There is no place for that vile bigotry in a mainstream political party or quite frankly anywhere.
‘I am sick of people turning a blind eye to it.’