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Deves says ‘no need’ to meet transgender groups as Howard backs her views

Deves says ‘no need’ to meet transgender groups as Howard backs her views

Federal election 2022

Katherine Deves says there is no need for her to meet a transgender group to hear alternative views on trans issues, as John Howard strongly backed her stance that trans women should not participate in women’s sport.

The former prime minister joined the Liberal candidate for Warringah on the campaign trail on Wednesday as polling day neared, with Liberals increasingly confident of clawing back at least some votes lost to independent Zali Steggall in 2019.

Howard said he “totally” agreed with Deves that young girls should not compete with biological males in sport, calling it “absurd” and arguing “most people feel that way”. “That’s not insensitive, it’s just a statement of the bleeding obvious,” he said.

Asked if she would meet with a trans group – just as she had recently visited the Jewish Museum after making comments comparing her activism to resistance to the Nazis – Deves told the Herald and The Age: “I have gay and lesbian and trans people, both trans women and trans men, in my friendship group.

“I have gay and lesbian people in my family. I speak to them regularly, so I don’t feel that I need to go any further than that.”

Pressed on whether she would meet with a trans group to hear a different perspective, Deves said: “If they are a member of the [Warringah] community they are welcome to come and talk to me if I become the member.”

It was not known whether trans groups have tried to meet with Deves but major LGBTQ group Equality Australia has not.

Deves said she had “a real shot” at wrestling back the seat of Warringah, which Steggall won from Tony Abbott in 2019 and holds on a 7.2 per cent margin.

The former Liberal prime minister, who served for 11 years between 1996 and 2007, said he did not detect the same public interest in Anthony Albanese as he detected with Kevin Rudd when Labor swept to power in 2007.

“People were thinking about a change in 2007 and for a combination of reasons they went for him [Rudd],” Howard said. “I find a marked lack of interest in Mr Albanese. There’s a growing feeling in the community that he’s not quite up to the job.”

Howard and Deves strolled through Manly Corso on Wednesday afternoon, but it being Manly, many voters they met turned out to be tourists from interstate. One local, 46-year-old builder Mick Rosic, said he wasn’t into politics but he would vote for Deves because she was on Howard’s side.

Zali Steggall supporters followed the media pack through the Manly Corso, ensuring their T-shirts remained in shot. Credit: Jessica Hromas

Earlier, Deves and her advisers had waited for Howard at a nearby cafe. While the cameras camped outside, a dozen Steggall supporters swarmed the cafe and sat down in the outdoor chairs, dressed in their teal shirts. They then followed Deves, Howard and the media pack through the Corso. One Liberal described it as “an act of intimidation”.

Asked by the Herald why she has put Pauline Hanson’s One Nation third on her how-to-vote card, Deves suggested asking Steggall why she was not disclosing where her preferences were going or who she would support in a hung parliament.

Steggall is not recommending preferences on her how-to-vote cards. She has refused to say which side she would support in a hung parliament, but has indicated she would find it difficult to negotiate with the Coalition if Scott Morrison was the leader.

It was Howard’s second campaign event of the day following a stroll through a Richmond shopping centre in the country’s most marginal seat, Macquarie, with Liberal candidate Sarah Richards.

John Howard and Liberal candidate for Macquarie Sarah Richards meet Hannah Rosier, 31, and her children Ivy, 4, and Darcy, 2, in Richmond. hookup apps college Credit: Michael Koziol

Western Sydney was the heartland of the so-called “Howard battler”, and they had not forgotten their hero, with the 82-year-old only making it to the first few shops as he was stopped for selfies and handshakes.

An Indigenous man, Andrew, approached Howard and thanked him for being “the only white fella who ever got up and apologised to my people”. Asked later by the Herald if he meant Kevin Rudd, who delivered the apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008, Andrew and his father Michael conceded it may have been the former Labor leader. But Howard was still a legend, they agreed.

Other voters in Macquarie expressed sympathy for Morrison, saying he had led the country through a particularly difficult period of floods, fires and COVID-19.

By Michael Koziol

“He’s had a tough run, but he’s doing a good job,” said Hannah Rosier, 31, mum to Ivy and Darcy. “I think he’s done pretty well to get us where we are.”

Malcolm Boivin, a 73-year-old retired chef and firefighter, was proud of how Morrison handled the pandemic. “It wouldn’t have mattered which party was there, it was going to cost money,” he said.

“I don’t think he handled the woman thing very well, and that’s a big thing, women voters. But he said he’s going to change. He probably will. Because of this election being so damn close.”

Cut through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Sign up to our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.

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