'Disgusted in myself': candidate rejects social media posts
A DAWSON candidate admits he was "disgusted in myself" after a Facebook post emerged of him likening Muslims in the Australian parliament to the rise of the Nazi Party.
Katter's Australian Party candidate Brendan Bunyan said he no longer stood by the Islamaphobic comments he posted to social media seven years ago.
In July 2013 western Sydney MP Ed Husic became the first Australian to take his oath of office on the Koran. This historic moment in Australian history was celebrated by some as a reflection of Australia's multicultural heritage.
However, Mr Husic was also subjected to religious online attacks, with online posts accusing him of being "un-Australian" for using the Koran.
In July 2013, Mr Bunyan shared an article about the use of Korans and Jewish bibles in the parliamentary swearing in ceremony.
He compared the use of the Koran with the rise of Nazism in Germany.
He wrote: "This is how Hitler got into power. One person at a time. Soon they will control the parliament and we won't be able to do a thing about it. Wake up Australia! Wake up!"
Today, Mr Bunyan said his comments disparaging Mr Husic was prompted by a 60 Minutes episode, which he alleges was about "Islamic extremists saying that they wanted to get people into parliament in Australia".
"I'm not saying I'm against Muslims, I'm not saying I'm against Asians or any other race. My thing was against extremists," he said.
But, this was not the first time Mr Bunyan posted Islamaphobic comments on his page. In a similar post in January 2011 Mr Bunyan posted "These (scum c----) should be forced to leave OUR COUNTRY".
In another post in April 2012, Mr Bunyan shared an article claiming Muslims had "brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism and lack of tolerance, crime and poverty".
Despite Mr Bunyan saying the racist comments were from many years ago, posts shared as recently as two years ago also made disparaging remarks about the Muslim community, accusing them of having poor work ethic due to a religious requirement that they pray five times a day.
When approached yesterday afternoon for comment, Mr Bunyan compared the criticism of his posts to recent controversies surrounding Israel Folau.
While he did not deny he made the posts, he said they were "inexcusable".
He said he had matured as an adult since 2012. Mr Bunyan said the posts from when he was 26 not longer reflected his core values.
"I'm married with two children and obviously my views on the world are a lot different."
"Your humour is a bit different and you think you're bulletproof".
"It's not excusable but it's something I'll put up my hand and own", he said.
Mr Bunyan said he was "obviously very disappointed in myself"
He said he was ready to face the fallout for his "regretful comments".
"Some people will look at this and think it's not necessary in parliament."
Mr Bunyan said he had also received support from members of the community after the Islamaphobic posts re-emerged.
When asked if he had a moral responsibility to reach out to the Muslim community of Mackay to make amends for the comments he made, Mr Bunyan said he would welcome talks with any community.
In a statement to the ABC KAP president Shane Paulger agreed Mr Bunyan's posts were racist, but said he would remain in place as a candidate for the federal election.
"Our history with KAP has shown we don't stand for this sort of behaviour ... this certainly is close to where we say 'enough is enough'," Mr Paulger said.