Earlier this week, it emerged that a One Nation candidate for the upcoming Western Australian election, Michelle Meyers, had written a Facebook post suggesting gay people were using Nazi mind control techniques to convince Christians to support LGBT rights.
Also this week, the Liberal Party did a deal with One Nation in WA to swap preferences. Federal Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos justified the move by saying One Nation is much more "sophisticated" than it was in the late '90s.
And ever since the story of the candidate who believed in "gay Nazi mind control" broke, One Nation has not distanced itself from the candidate or her views.
So I went along to One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts' parliamentary seminar on Wednesday night, which workshopped ways to bring an end to the United Nations, and asked him a few questions.
It was an interesting evening, bringing together critics of the UN including conservative radio host and former voice-of-the-trains Grant Goldman and American author Edwin Black. The latter said the evening marked the Australian launch of a new global group called the "Covenant of Democratic Nations".
As other journalists left, Black asked if the ABC's Four Corners crew was still in the room and this awkward encounter occurred.
Senator Roberts, who had left the event to go and sit in the Senate, replied to the tweet.
So I thought it was as good a time as any to ask Roberts about Meyers' views on the LGBT community.
The senator did not answer the question.
I tried again.
Again, no answer. And I was called "#fakenews".
It was a bit unfair considering I was the only journalist still at the seminar.
The senator continued to attack me personally, saying "Last time u attacked Jews", referring to a question I once asked him about his views on international bankers.
I tried one more time with no luck.
This morning, Roberts came out to face the media and take questions. Here's how the exchange went:
BuzzFeed News: Can I just ask about your candidate in WA for the seat of Bateman. She’s made it pretty clear on Facebook she’s got some anti-gay views. She’s talked about Nazi mind control techniques. One Nation hasn’t said anything, hasn’t distanced itself from this sort of stuff?
Senator Roberts: I don’t make comments on something I haven’t heard of. I am not going to rely upon… I honestly have not seen it. We had a very busy day getting through legislation on the ABCC to reduce the transition from two years down to nine months. That was extremely important because taxpayers are funding a 30% higher cost than should be the case for building. They’re the kind of issues we are into.
BuzzFeed News: You’re getting Liberal party preferences; you’re going to win a lot of seats probably in WA.
Senator Roberts: Do you think so?
BuzzFeed News: I think that the polling suggests that. What I am suggesting is this is one of the bigger stories in WA at the moment – you’ve got a candidate who has got some pretty fringe views.
Senator Roberts: According to who?
BuzzFeed News: Well I am asking you, if you believe they’re fringe?
Senator Roberts: Well I said that I don’t know what she said.
BuzzFeed News: She's Michelle Meyers, I can show you on my phone if you like... the Facebook status.
Senator Roberts: I’d want to see the context. I’d want to learn about that.
BuzzFeed News: But isn’t this something that One Nation should be on top of, that one of your candidates has been criticised in the WA media about this stuff?
Senator Roberts: Hey, I am a senator for Queensland. I represent the people of Queensland. They’re my constituents. So I serve the people of Queensland. Go and talk to the people in Western Australia about Western Australian candidates. As far as your core complaint, your core question as to our position on homosexuality, we are not in favour of discriminating against homosexuals. We’ve got homosexuals within our party. We’ve got homosexuals right through parliament. We’ve got homosexuals right across the country. We’ve got homosexuals in very powerful positions and important positions in this country in terms of sport, politics, the arts. No we don’t discriminate against them.
BuzzFeed News: But your candidate has made it very clear that gay people in this country are using mind control techniques to convince others about marriage equality.
Senator Roberts: I’ve answered that three times, I’m not going to go anymore.
BuzzFeed News: So One Nation will not comment on one of its candidates views that are very, very clear?
Senator Roberts: I don’t... it’s a thing I don’t know about.
BuzzFeed News: It’s just something you’re not even going to engage with? Not even going to read the reports? Not even going to read the newspapers?
Senator Roberts: I didn’t say that. Did I say that?
BuzzFeed News: It’s been in the papers for three days.
Senator Roberts: If it’s of interest to me, I will look into it.
BuzzFeed News: So it’s not of interest of, to you?
Senator Roberts: No because I am a senator for Queensland, that’s Western Australia.
BuzzFeed News: But your leader Pau-
Senator Roberts: I am not going to speak any more about that.
One Nation is yet to comment on Michelle Meyers' views about Australia's LGBT community.
Mark Di Stefano is a media and politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at email@example.com.
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