Greens leader Adam Bandt accuses Prime Minister Scott Morrison of trying to weaponize transgender debate for election campaign

Greens Leader Adam Bandt says Prime Minister Scott Morrison is putting lives at risk, by agreeing with the Liberal candidate for Warringah, who lobbied to stop transgender women from competing in women’s sport.

Katherine Deves — who was Scott Morrison’s pick for the eastern Sydney suburbs’ federal seat of Warringah — has also apologized after she described transgender children as “surgically mutilated and sterilized” in deleted tweets from November last year.

Ms Deves — who is running against independent Zali Steggall in the seat once held by Tony Abbott for the Liberals — is the co-founder and spokeswoman for a group that wants to limit participation in women’s sport to those who were born female.

On Monday, Mr Morrison said that Ms Deves raised “important issues and he “shares” her views.

Speaking during his pre-election National Press Club Address on Wednesday, Greens Leader Adam Bandt said the Prime Minister’s comments were dangerous.

“Scott Morrison said he was backing [those remarks] because he was concerned about women. I mean, give me a break,” Mr Bandt said.

Katherine Deves apologized after she described transgender children as “surgically mutilated and sterilized” in deleted tweets.(Supplied)

Mr Bandt accused Mr Morrison of trying to weaponize the debate and turn it into a “culture war”.

“What this is about from Scott Morrison is an attempt to start up a devastating culture war that has the potential to claim lives,” he said.

“I will not be joining the Prime Minister in trying to prosecute a culture war when lives are at stake. Nearly half of young transgender women have reported [they have] attempted suicide.”

Mr Bandt said transgender people deserved the country’s support.

“Having lived through the marriage equality debate, where people reported they heard their very right to exist being debated in parliament, we can not afford another one of those,” he said.

“People’s rights to exist should not be the fodder of election campaigns.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr Morrison was asked which of Ms Deves’s views he shared.

Mr Morrison said Ms Deves had apologised, and he explained that he supported the views of a private members bill put forward by Tasmanian senator Claire Chandler.

Senator Chandler is an outspoken figure who advocates against transgender women participating in sport. She put forward a bill aimed at changing the Sex Discrimination Act, to allow sporting groups and clubs to exclude transgender women from single-sex sports.

“The government doesn’t have any plans for that to be a government bill, it was a private members bill, and I’ve told you very clearly what my views on that bill are,” he said.

At the last election, old social media posts haunted candidates across the political divide.

In 2019, the Liberals had high hopes of winning Lyons.

But the Liberal candidate was forced to quit the party after the ballots had already been printed after accusations of historical anti-immigration and anti-Muslim social media posts.

A Liberal review of the last election recommended that aspiring politicians be trained at “candidate colleges”, in a bid to prevent embarrassing disendorsements in the future.

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