November 20, 2014 – 10:35PM
By Keryn Reynolds
When Buninyong Liberal state election candidate Mr Ben Taylor, spoke about rolling back ‘abortion laws’ at an Australian Christian Lobby forum last week he probably didn’t expect his comments would create a local media furore.
But that’s exactly what has happened in Ballarat. Yesterday, Mr Taylor was hounded by media seeking his views on abortion after hearing about what he said last week, and some of his opponents are claiming he has ruined his election chances.
But what exactly did he say? Mr Taylor responded to UniPollWatch questions about his views with one-word answers. Yes, he had said that life began in the womb at conception. No, he had not declined to respond to questions about whether he believed homosexuality to be a sin. And yes, he had said that marriage was between a man and a woman.
Meanwhile Labor’s Mr Howard told UniPollWatch that he regretted attending the forum because he came away believing it was ‘a set up to make Ben look good to the fundamentalist Christians present’ and was chaired by a ‘very biased’ moderator.
The comments by Mr Taylor resulted in Nationals Ms Smith declaring yesterday she will not hand out her party’s how to vote cards, which directed second preference to Mr Taylor.
Instead Ms Smith said she would print her own how to vote card and advise voters to put her first and then preference according to their conscience.
Mr Brian Pola, 65, a retired teacher and academic, told UniPollWatch that he had attended the forum last week and heard Mr Taylor’s comments on abortion.
‘When asked if he supported abortion, Ben Taylor said: “Life begins in the womb at conception,”’ Mr Pola said.
Mr Pola said he asked Mr Taylor directly ‘Is homosexuality a sin?’ but Mr Taylor declined to answer after the forum moderator ruled the question out of order because it was ‘not an economic issue’.
‘Out of order? After 20 years being unemployed in Ballarat because I am an openly gay man, it is an economic issue to me,’ Mr Pola said.
Mr Pola said he asked Mr Taylor the question two more times but ‘all he did was hang his head and not answer’.
When asked by another audience member ‘Do you believe in gay marriage?’ Mr Taylor said ‘Marriage is between a man and a woman.’
Ms Smith has since told UniPollWatch that she believes in ‘Zero discrimination for same sex marriages’.
Mr Howard said he supports same-sex marriage, as ‘All loving couples should have the opportunity to become legally married.’
For further developments on this story: ‘Liberal candidate muzzled after calling for abortion laws to be rolled back’ (ABC PM, 18 November 2014)
Keryn Reynolds is a Master of Journalism student at the University of Melbourne