We’re safe and mainstream, say Victorian Libs

Liberal Leader Matthew Guy [right] and Premier Daniel Andrews locked horns in a televised debate.

Liberal Leader Matthew Guy [right] and Premier Daniel Andrews locked horns in a televised debate. Photo: AAP

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has issued a plea to voters to believe in his “safe” and “centrist” party, following days of damaging claims about extremist candidates.

Premier Daniel Andrews has refused to apologise after Deputy Liberal Leader David Southwick slammed Labor for using the term Nazi to describe some candidates running for parliament.

Mr Andrews said it was extremists and the Liberal Party preferencing them who ought to apologise.

“They’re decisions that the Liberal Party have made. I can’t explain them,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Monday.

“It should be a contest of ideas, not a contest of competing calls for violent acts.”

The term Nazi ‘completely inappropriate’

Mr Southwick said it was “completely inappropriate and desperate” of the government to use the term Nazi and if there were candidates running with those views, then they should be named.

Anti Defamation Commission chair Dvir Abramovich agreed, saying the word should only be used when discussing the Holocaust.

Via Twitter, Federal Labor MP Josh Burns on Monday singled out independent candidate Tylere Baker-Pearce running in the seat of Narre Warren South who has published multiple photos and memes to social media pages seemingly depicting antisemitic sentiments.

Labor has preferenced the Liberals’ Annette Samuel fourth ahead of Mr Baker-Pearce, compared to Labor’s Gary Maas being listed as eighth by his opponent, behind the independent’s fifth.

Liberal policies ‘not extreme’

At a campaign luncheon on Monday, Mr Guy said his message to voters was clear: his party was safe, sensible, centrist and mainstream.

“We have mainstream values like fixing the health system, like dealing with cost of living pressures, like giving you the fresh start you need,” Mr Guy later told reporters.

“They’re not extreme policies. They’re mainstream policies.”

Liberal Party upper house candidate Renee Heath, who was revealed to be connected to the controversial City Builders Church when she was pre-selected, has told Nine she has engaged lawyers to assess whether she has grounds to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

She denied supporting gay conversion therapy and said suggesting otherwise was “completely false and misleading”.

National Party candidate dies unexpectedly

Mr Guy backed Liberal candidate Timothy Dragan at the weekend after recordings of him making derogatory comments regarding Indigenous Australians, abortion and climate change were leaked.

The Liberal leader said he accepted Mr Dragan’s apology and there would be no further action taken.

National Party candidate Shaun David Gilchrist, 47, and the candidate for Narracan, died unexpectedly at Rawson on Sunday – six days out from the state election.

He was due in the County Court on November 30 accused of rape, AAP has confirmed.

Police were called to bushland about 4.15pm and will prepare a report for the coroner, but the death is not being treated as suspicious.

Aboriginal claim denied

Labor’s candidate for Richmond has also been embroiled in controversy with her family claiming she is not Aboriginal.

Lauren O’Dwyer has described herself as a proud Yorta Yorta woman throughout her election campaign, but a member of her family has told the ABC she holds no such ties.

AAP has contacted Ms O’Dwyer and the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation for comment.

Mr Andrews said cultural identity is “a very complex thing” and referred reporters to Ms O’Dwyer on the matter.

“She’s been very, very clear about who she is and where she comes from,” the Premier said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made a surprise visit to join Mr Andrews on Monday’s election campaign, thanking volunteers in Caulfield.

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