Page 630 - Week 02 - Thursday, 24 March 2022
website. There is the “freedom pledge”, which calls for freedom to choose your own medical treatments. It is clearly a dog whistle to the anti-vaccine movement. There is the “unlock Australia campaign”. It, of course, calls for the lockdowns to end. Nothing subtle there.
There are very big COVID-19 denier vibes from the get-go, which, of course, would not be out of place in the Canberra Liberals. After all, the Canberra Liberals famously declared that the pandemic was over in early 2020 and then later said that COVID restrictions were absurd before the 2020 election. Then there are the classic right-wing causes like how the ABC is left wing, that the curriculum is trying to erase Western culture and that there is apparently some secret plan to cancel Anzac Day. Anyway, it is weird and far-right stuff.
However, I believe that this group is worth the attention of the Assembly. Unfortunately, it appears that there exists a relationship between the Canberra Liberals and this group which has not yet fully been revealed. A member of this place until recently, Mrs Dunne, is a director of this group. Most notably, she was a very proud Canberra Liberals member in this place, was a former speaker of this Assembly and was a former shadow health minister.
Interestingly, the Canberra Times reports that Mrs Dunne quit the Canberra Liberals in early February 2021, only to become a director of Advance Australia nine days later. However, Mrs Dunne’s association with the Canberra Liberals did not cease at the time of her resignation. The following month, her work on the 2020 election campaign review was handed to Canberra Liberals leadership and then published. There is no political party on earth that would accept and then publish an election review from someone that has just quit their party unless they understood the real reason for the resignation: optics.
I will make one quick suggestion to Mrs Dunne and Advance Australia as they listen to this. It would probably be helpful to the charade if Mrs Dunne would remove the links on her social media pages directing people to the Canberra Liberals. But I digress. It is not just Mrs Dunne from the Canberra Liberals involved in this group. It appears that a former staff member of Liberal Senator Zed Seselja has also been a director of this group. The Canberra Liberals need to explain to the Canberra community what their ongoing relationship with Advance Australia is and how it is that they could become a major source of their leadership.
In closing, I have a few more questions for the record. Are any current Canberra Liberal MLAs, their staff or party members involved with this group? Will the Canberra Liberals disavow the involvement of this group in the 2024 ACT election? Further, will the Canberra Liberals condemn this extremist group? Their silence so far on this issue has been deafening.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra—Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Business and Better Regulation, Minister for Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (4.22): I want to take a moment