Article by Henrietta Cook and Farrah Tomazin /
The Age /
August 10, 2014 /
Click here to view original /
Young Liberals at one of the country’s most elite universities have posted racist, crude and misogynist comments on social media, describing women as ”sluts”, Muslims as ”degenerates” and saying all feminists are ugly.
Only days after two Liberal candidates were forced to quit ahead of November’s state election over a series of derogatory posts on Facebook and Twitter, the party has been rocked again by offensive behaviour in its ranks.
In a series of screenshots of Facebook messages leaked to Fairfax Media, the Melbourne University Liberal Club members attack feminist and alumni Germaine Greer, take aim at homosexuality, and repeatedly demean women.
Club treasurer Stefan Eracleous describes Ms Greer as a ”lying f—ing c-m guzzling slut … and a union member”.
”She doesn’t believe in God. No kids not married … what do you [e]xpect from a melb uni educated former socialist c—,” he wrote.
He also refers to London as ”the gay capital of the world” and appears to hit out at Muslims, telling a friend: ”Just be careful of those mussrats. A lot of them are [a] bunch of Third World degenerate c—s.”
The club’s vice-president, Charlie Cartney, said in a Facebook message in January that a venue was ”definitely worth a visit” because it had a Mexican restaurant and an upstairs bar with ”lots of sluts”, saying in another post: ”Get some sluts for me.”
Other members of the group referred to former prime minister Julia Gillard as a ”twat” and said ”Tara Moss should only be on TV if she is in a bikini”.
The posts are another embarrassing blow for the Liberals – surfacing days after party chiefs warned MPs and candidates to act appropriately on social media – and have fuelled Labor’s claims of a broader cultural problem within Liberal ranks.
The Young Liberals and university Liberal clubs often are seen as a starting point for people interested in politics, with Melbourne University alumni including state treasurer Michael O’Brien, federal senator Scott Ryan and federal Higgins MP Kelly O’Dwyer.
The Melbourne University Liberal Club’s Facebook page also shows members campaigning for the state election with candidates and MPs, including Attorney-General Robert Clark and backbenchers Clem Newton-Brown and Neil Angus.
Club president Michael Sabljak said he was not aware of the comments until The Sunday Age contacted him because they were not on an official Melbourne University Liberal forum, but denied the club had a homophobic, sexist or misogynistic culture.
Mr Eracleous refused to provide any comment despite being contacted by The Sunday Age a number of times. Mr Cartney said he was not prepared to provide a response without evidence. Despite being given the relevant material, he still had not commented.
The revelations follow the resignation of two Liberal candidates for the state election in recent days over offensive social media posts. Bendigo West candidate Jack Lyons quit last week after it was revealed he wrote dozens of offensive Facebook posts, including racist comments about people from China and Africa.
Former Young Liberals president Aaron Lane, who had been endorsed as the party’s candidate for Western Region in the upper house, resigned the previous week after he was exposed for tweeting a barrage of crude comments which included the derogatory term ”faggot”.
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer at Melbourne University’s school of social and political sciences, said it was impossible for the Liberal Party to control its message in the era of social media.
”Social media is a very, very tricky game for people who haven’t been trained in media and communications,” Dr Rosewarne said.
She said nothing was private on social media and if candidates or clubs aligned with the party went ”off message or rogue”, the party was responsible for reining them in.
”It’s really damaging to the political party brand.”
State director Damien Mantach declined to comment.