Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm has been embroiled in an online firestorm for making an offensive comment about sports journalist Rebecca Wilson on the day she died of breast cancer.
Wilson, who died in Sydney overnight from breast cancer at age 54, is being remembered as a courageous and accomplished journalist.
In a statement, her husband John Hartigan, the former chief executive of News Corp, and her sons Tom and Will said she passed away at her Sydney home early on Friday.
“Courage has always been a significant part of her DNA, no less in her desperate battle against her insidious disease,” the family said.
“Rebecca kept knowledge of her illness a closely guarded secret.
“The majority of her friends, colleagues and indeed members of her family were unaware of the extent of her illness.
“She did so to limit their suffering.”
While most messages expressed sympathy and condolences, a number of sports fans took the opportunity to express their dislike for the fallen journalist.
Replying to a comment from Wilson’s brother, fellow journalist Jim Wilson, one Twitter user sparked rage by suggesting Wilson “deserved” to die.
“Bye bye Bec, enjoy the fire,” he wrote.
— Stu Cazzo (@Stu_cazzu) October 6, 2016
Senator David Leyonhjelm, who has a penchant for the politically incorrect, wrote that he didn’t think there would be “many Wanderers fans” at Wilson’s funeral – in reference to the journalist publicly naming soccer fans on the FFA’s banned list.
“Innocent lives damaged,” he wrote.
The senator proceeded to retweet a number of users who praised him for “telling it like it is”.
— David Leyonhjelm (@DavidLeyonhjelm) October 6, 2016
Wilson ‘brushed aside trolls, bullies, mafia’
Ms Wilson’s family said she played an important role as a skilled female journalist.
“She brushed aside evil trolls, bullies and organised crime figures to prosecute her craft.”
“She proved that women had an equally important role in sports journalism as her male counterparts.”
Her former colleague Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones choked up on air as paid tribute to her.
“Bec was a force of nature in a way,” he said.
“She was brilliant, she was unsparing.”