Former Nationals candidate for the state seat of Lismore, Rod Bruem, resigned from the party yesterday after his allegations of a concerted homophobic campaign against him were rejected.
Mr Bruem, who is openly gay, said in a statement that ‘a hastily convened meeting of the party’s Ethics Committee refused to act over a series of damaging and defamatory questions’ levelled at him during last weekend’s Lismore preselection.
He was one of seven candidates to take part in an initial run-off for the seat of retiring MP Thomas George last Saturday, three of whom will go through to a so-called ‘community preselection’ next month.
But he told Echonetdaily on Monday that he believed the preselection process had been ‘corrupted from the start’ and that he had been subjected to an inordinate number of questions about his personal life.
Echonetdaily understands Mr Bruem received an email from the National’s Deputy State Director Thomas Aubert yesterday stating the committee decided no questions breached the Party’s rules protecting members from ‘disorderly personal reflections.’
Among the questions Mr Bruem faced were repeated assertions he had hidden criminal underworld links and that his gay male partner made him ‘unsuitable to be a Nationals candidate.’
‘It’s disappointing the Nationals Ethics Committee has met and not even bothered to contact me to hear my side of what happened,’ he said.
‘Instead it has backed up the State Director Nathan Quigley who sat in the chairman’s seat on Saturday and remained mute while I was subjected to a series of ridiculous and damaging character attacks dressed up as questions.’
‘I can’t believe a party which has so many honourable members allowed this to pass. These allegations would have been ruled out of order by the Speaker in the ‘bear pit’ of NSW Parliament, yet the Nationals think they are somehow acceptable in a community preselection?’ Mr Bruem said.
‘I’m proud of my personal and professional record. I’m incredibly grateful for the support I received from people who were at the meeting as well as other members of the NSW Nationals and the wider Lismore community.’
Stuck in the 1920s
‘I’m in the process of selling my Lismore business and I look forward to putting my considerable talent, time and resources into serving the diverse and loving Lismore community, without being shackled to a truly hateful political party that supports unacceptable behaviour.
‘Among the more disturbing calls I’ve received in recent days have been several from women who say they’ve been subjected to similar sexist and unacceptable questioning at previous Nationals preselections, which were also not ruled out of order. It’s hardly surprising therefore that not one woman wanted to run for the Nationals in Lismore.
‘Its values and standards of behaviour are obviously stuck in the 1920s and seriously need updating,’ Mr Bruem said.