PM has ‘no doubts’ Deves is right woman for Warringah

Morrison today said he had “no doubts in selecting a strong woman” to run in the seat of Warringah, despite Deves claiming “mutilation” is the correct terminology for gender reassignment surgery and insisting that her advocacy against transgender people competing in women’s sports was akin to standing against the Nazis during the Holocaust.

“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 the campaign trail in Sydney this morning.

Katherine Deves came under immediate pressure in the federal election campaign for social media comments describing trans children as ‘surgically mutilated and sterilised’. (SMH / James Alcock)

“That’s what being a Liberal is all about.”

During a series of feisty back and forth exchanges with reporters over the issue of gender reassignment surgery, Morrison said he continued to side with Deves.

“We can’t pretend that this type of surgery is some minor procedure. This is a very significant change to a young person’s life and it is often irreversible.”

However Morrison conceded he would not use the term “mutilation” to describe gender reassignment surgery.

“That’s not a phrase I would use or a phrase any prime minister would use. I’m just simply saying that this is a significant surgical procedure that completely changes someone’s life and it should never be entered into lightly, and it should never be entered into without a full appreciation of the irreversible changes.”

Since Morrison anointed her, Deves has been heavily scrutinised for inflammatory social media posts about transgender people which she apologised for early in the election campaign, saying her “language has on occasion been unacceptable”.

“It has hurt people and detracted from my arguments,” she said.

But the issue has refused to die, and she claimed to have received death threats and relocated her family out of Sydney in the face of intense backlash from some critics.

Deves has repeatedly tried to dodge being questioned by the media about her views, including giving interviews from secret locations, hiding in a garage and being escorted in and out of venues where she is campaigning without fielding a single question from waiting media.

It has been suggested Deves is being gagged by Liberal Party HQ, who fear further public comment will only damage her chances in Warringah, currently held by independent Zali Steggall after she ousted Tony Abbott in 2019.

Scott Morrison handpicked Katherine Deves to run just weeks out from the start of the campaign.
Scott Morrison handpicked Katherine Deves to run just weeks out from the start of the campaign. (SMH / James Alcock)

Morrison was this morning in no mood to start backing away from Deves, saying he was “very determined” to have more women representing the Liberal Party at this election.

“I have no doubts in selecting a strong woman who wanted to represent the Liberal Party at this election,” he said.

“Not everybody may agree with her point of view. I accept that.”

Morrison was in the Sydney electorate of Bennelong to announce a $220 million upgrade of Epping Bridge, a notorious commuter bottleneck on the city’s north.

The federal and NSW government will split the infrastructure cost.

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