Labor’s embattled candidate for Melbourne, Luke Creasey, has quit after being exposed over fresh Facebook “jokes” about rape, group sex and lesbians.
Mr Creasey jumped before he was pushed, resigning just after 1pm – and just after Labor leader Bill Shorten ordered a full review of Mr Creasy’s social media posts on Friday morning.
“While I made those awful comments many years ago, and they in no way reflect the views I hold today, I understand – especially as a member of the LGBTIQ community – that we need to be careful about what we share or like on social media,” he said.
“I think this is a really important lesson for young people – that your social media footprint will follow you.”
— Tom McIlroy (@TomMcIlroy) May 3, 2019
His move followed Friday morning’s decision by the Liberal candidate for Lyons, Jessica Whelan, to also step down amid uproar over anti-Muslim sentiments expressed on social media.
The embattled Mr Creasey shared a rape joke and made offensive remarks about women online in 2012.
Mr Shorten, now spared from having to publicly disendorse Mr Creasey, earlier decried the “deeply offensive” social media posts.
“Stupid is stupid is stupid, I’m not here to give the bloke a pat on the back,” he said on Friday morning.
“He is mortified, as he should be. He doesn’t want to cause any embarrassment and he doesn’t hold those views now. He has apologised deeply.”
Mr Shorten said the case was different from that of dumped Tasmanian Liberal candidate Jessica Whelan, who made anti-Islamic posts on social media.
“She said what she believes now,” he said.
The principal of Coburg High School, where Mr Creasey was a food technology teacher, said the posts were made when Mr Creasey was not a teacher at the school.
Message sent from Coburg High School principal re: former employee Luke Creasey pic.twitter.com/f7BXM2nUkE
— Andrew Greene (@AndrewBGreene) May 3, 2019
Mr Shorten had stood by Mr Creasey for days, but started to distance himself early on Friday, as fresh evidence emerged of more distasteful posts, asking the secretary of the Victorian Labor Party to fully brief the Labor leader “so we can get to the bottom of everything”.
But he was saved from the decision on the future of his party’s candidate with Mr Creasey quitting by lunch time on Friday.
Earlier, Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused Ms Whelan of lying to him about “doctored” Facebook posts. He defended his decision to claim the matter had been “referred to the AFP”. On Thursday night, the AFP confirmed that had not happened.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to distance his team from Ms Whelan, saying on Friday “her views were her views, and they do not represent the views of the party I lead”.
Ms Whelan maintains she did not make one of the Islamophobic comments that emerged under her name this week. She said she had referred the “doctored” Facebook post to federal police.
But the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party said Ms Whelan had accepted she made “some of the other posts in question”. She offered her resignation on Friday.
“Clearly these posts are inappropriate, and the Liberal Party was not aware of their existence until they were reported,” a party spokesman said.
The Hobart Mercury uncovered two new Facebook posts bearing Ms Whelan’s name and photograph on Thursday.
One of them called for a national vote on banning Muslim immigration. The other argued Tasmania should not accept refugees from Syria and Iraq.
A party spokesman initially said Ms Whelan denied making the post and that it appeared to have been digitally manipulated. In a statement of her own on Friday, Ms Whelan said she would continue legal action over posts wrongly attributed to her.
Acknowledging Ms Whelan’s defence on Thursday, Mr Morrison said it was not hard to believe that an image could be doctored. But on Friday, he said the Liberals had acted quickly once new information that had not been disclosed by the candidate emerged.
“What that says is, we’re prepared to deal with these issues,” he said.