Controversial NSW Liberal MP David Clarke has denied allegations he made derogatory remarks about homosexuals and Jews in order to attract Muslim voters to the Liberal Party.
Ifran Yusuf, a former Liberal Party member, made claims on ABC-TV’s Lateline on Monday night about the right-wing politician’s attempt to woo the Muslim vote away from Labor to Liberal.
This followed a posting on Yusuf’s online blog (planetirf.blogspot.com) in which he wrote of a meeting with Clarke in a Kirribilli pub in 1995.
Clarke was immediately interested in my background, Yusuf wrote. He was particularly interested in whether I had a -˜Moslem’ affiliation. From Day 1, he encouraged me to get -˜Moslems’ to join the Young Libs. I told him I found it difficult to recruit as most of my friends were ALP voters.
Yusuf alleges Clarke suggested exploiting sentiment against homosexuals and Jews as a recruiting strategy.
Clarke released a statement to Lateline denying the claims and alleging Yusuf had been running an escalating campaign of denigration against him.
I categorically deny making derogatory remarks to him about Jews and homosexuals, or encouraging him to sign up Labor Party members as member of the Liberal Party. His allegations are outrageous lies, Clarke’s statement read.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday Clarke called the allegations outrageous lies and insisted he was not homophobic.
No, absolutely not. I emphatically deny that.
I think you accept people as they are. I know some people who are gay who actually oppose the age of consent being reduced.
Clarke, a devotee of the Opus Dei sect of the Catholic Church, also added in the interview, I am not seeing to re-criminalise homosexuality.
Federal Liberal Minister Joe Hockey, however, added to the in-fighting within the fractured Liberals when he challenged Clarke to reveal his views on a range of social issues.
Hockey, a Liberal moderate, said it was time Clarke was held accountable for his views.
Yesterday, Tony Abbott asked us to have a good look at David Clarke and what he stands for in the NSW Parliament, Hockey said in Canberra, reported AAP.
Now that he holds extraordinary sway over the NSW Liberal Party, I think people all have a responsibility to ask him what he stands for.
Clarke was in the news last week in the aftermath of John Brogden’s suicide attempt, when it was alleged Clarke was at the centre of a right-wing push to oust Brogden from the leadership of the party.
A spokesperson for Clarke told Sydney Star Observer the minister was unavailable for comment as he was away on business for three days.