Liberal MP Fiona Martin has been charged with her Labor opponent in the Sydney seat of Reid, Sally Sitou, of “desperate political games” in an ongoing stoush over an alleged racist comment.
- In a social media post, Ms Martin denied making a racial slur
- Ms Sitou said she was disappointed and would like an apology
- Ms Martin holds Reid for the Liberal Party with a margin of 3.2 percent
It comes as Ms Sitou, who is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, asked Ms Martin to apologise, saying it was likely she had confused her with another Asian-Australian in a radio debate yesterday.
During the Nine Radio interview, Ms Martin accused Ms Sitou of moving to the electorate because she “couldn’t run in Fowler”, and said Kristina Keneally “kicked you out of Fowler too”.
The comments appear to refer to lawyer Tu Le, who had hoped to run in the seat of Fowler in Sydney’s south-west until Labor parachuted in Ms Keneally.
Ms Martin insists that’s not the case and today issued a statement on Facebook denying making any racial slurs, and referring to Labor’s “seat shopping candidates”.
“My record makes clear I would never direct a racial slur at anyone. There is no place for racism in Australia and it should be called out,” she said.
“I won’t be distracted by desperate political games played by the Labor Party and its seat shopping candidates.”
Ms Martin went to school in Reid, which she described as a “jewel in the crown” of Australia’s multiculturalism.
The seat takes in parts of Sydney’s western suburbs, and inner west.
“I am the granddaughter of Greek migrants and I grew up and went to school in Reid,” she said.
“Australia is one of the most successful multicultural nations in the world and Reid is the jewel in the crown when it comes to multiculturalism. Our diversity is our strength.”
But many of the responses on Ms Martin’s Facebook post accuse her of racism and “doubling down” on her earlier comments instead of apologizing.
Ms Sitou tweeted that she would like an apology from Ms Martin, “for mistaking me for a different person”.
“I’m disappointed that Fiona Martin is doubling down on her accusations about me. Campaigns are stressful and she made a mistake,” she said on Twitter.
“I’d just like her to apologise for mistaking me for a different person. The people of Reid deserve better than this.”
Yesterday, former Australian of the Year and mental health advocate Patrick McGorry said Ms Martin’s campaign selectively quoted him in a re-election endorsement for her without his knowledge.
Ms Martin has said she will remove the ad after Professor McGorry’s complaint.
Ms Martin holds Reid with a margin of 3.2 percent, and the electorate is considered crucial for the Liberal Party in this election.
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