Tony Abbott begs Liberals to support Katherine Deves in Warringah

When it seemed likely the NSW division would install disability campaigner and moderate David Brady as Warringah candidate, former Warringah FEC president Walter Villatora sent a blistering email to party officials warning: “Warringah Liberal members will revolt and simply walk away. There will be no grassroots or donor support for an illegitimately appointed, unknown outsider. To beat the incumbent independent the party needs all the resources and support it can get.”

Abbott lost Warringah in 2019 to independent Zali Steggall. He has made few contributions to this campaign compared with former prime minister John Howard, who has appeared in several seats, or Malcolm Turnbull, who encouraged voters in ‘teal’ seats to consider voting for independents.

After Deves’ deleted tweets about transgender and other LGBTQ issues were unearthed, Abbott backed the embattled candidate, saying he admired her and she was the victim of a “pile on”.

Earlier this week, Deves backtracked on a previous apology for tweeting that transgender people were “surgically mutilated and sterilized.” She told Sky News’ Chris Kenny that mutilation was, in fact, “the correct medico-legal term”.

She said the term was used in the Crimes Act of NSW. However, that piece of legislation specifically says that “female genital mutilation” is not a crime if it is a sexual reassignment surgery performed by a doctor.

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Morrison later defended Deves again, saying she was raising an issue which was sensitive but important for parents, although he would not condone her phrasing.

“I’m absolutely pleased that I’ve been able to recruit and we’ve been able to appoint strong female Liberal candidates that won’t just run with the pack when it comes to issues but will stand up for what they believe in, Morrison said on Tuesday. “That’s what being a Liberal is all about.”

Warringah FEC president Lee Furlong and the NSW Liberal Party were contacted for comment.

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