Another western Sydney Liberal Party candidate could be in hot water, just days after former Chifley candidate David Barker was sacked for his damaging anti-Muslim meltdown.
The controversy erupted on Monday night, when resident James Fiander approached local councillor Jess Diaz and Liberal Greenway candidate Jaymes Diaz (father and son politicians) at a meet and greet event in Blacktown. After claiming to be told by the pair that the neighbouring seat of Chifley was a “lost cause” because there were “too many Muslims” in the area, Fiander — a former candidate for the Climate Change Coalition — published his comments on Twitter for all to see:
When contacted by Crikey, Fiander refused to back down from his claims. “I was having a chat to Jaymes Diaz, as I know that he was only preselected as the Liberal candidate for Greenway this week. He was toeing the standard Liberal Party line about stop the boats, end the waste and so on, but other than that he seemed like a pretty good bloke,” he told Crikey.
“Then his father, Jess Diaz — a local Liberal councillor, came over; he guided the conversation to see if I lived in Greenway. I confirmed I did, but my friend mentioned he lived in the seat of Chifley. Jaymes Diaz and his father had a good giggle to each that the seat was a lost cause; ‘unfixable … too many Muslims’. I was taken aback by this. It is my opinion that after the last week they [the Liberal Party] would never use the word ‘Muslim’ again during the campaign.”
It’s conceivable that Diaz could have been referring to the fact Barker was dis-endorsed as the Liberal Party candidate for the neighbouring seat of Chifley earlier this week after making anti-Muslim statements, which presumably has made the Liberal party unpopular with Muslim voters. But when quizzed about Fiander’s claims, Diaz senior was unequivocal that they were false.
“No way why would I say that? I deny it totally. I said it’s a safe Labor seat. The guy asked me if it was because there were too many Muslims and I said it doesn’t matter. It’s a total lie. I only commented because it’s a safe Labor seat,” Diaz told Crikey.
Upon finding out the allegations had been turned back on him, Fiander said Diaz’ claims were “almost slanderous” and that he “didn’t ask that question.”
“It would never have come up; I was brought up to treat all people equally; race, s-x, religion and so on has no bearing on any aspect of life. There were other people standing there, most notably a friend of mine who was participating in the conversation. We spoke about it with the local Greens candidate. It was very surprising,” he said.
Patrick Gardner, a friend of Fiander with no political affiliation who was also party to the conversation, confirmed Fiander’s claims: “When I first heard it I thought it was some sort of joke. Given that there had already been some controversy about this recently, I thought that they would have been more careful.”
“It was a little bit of a shock to hear it, you don’t expect someone to say something like that. There was no line of questioning that led to it. It just came out of nowhere.”
Jaymes Diaz didn’t return Crikey’s calls before deadline.