Nationals' state director says 7.30 Report 'had an agenda'

ABC journalist, Michael Atkin holding Tuesday's Northern Star about the controversial Nationals preselection for the seat of Lismore  during his report for news program, 7.30.
ABC journalist, Michael Atkin holding Tuesday's Northern Star about the controversial Nationals preselection for the seat of Lismore during his report for news program, 7.30. ABC 7.30 Report

Update Friday 12.30pm: NSW Nationals have raised concerns over national coverage of the preselection process for the seat of Lismore that they say alluded to the party having a broader problem with homophobia.

State director Nathan Quigley was critical of how the 7.30 Report analysed the preselection for the seat of Lismore and the questions asked by the public of unsuccessful and openly gay candidate Rod Bruem.

"I think the agenda was to point out and infer a broader problem with homophobia in this day and age, which is not true," Mr Quigley said.

Mr Quigley has made no secret about being uncomfortable with a particular question asked of Mr Bruem that implied he had issues in his past.

But he maintained that the particular question didn't breach party rules, making clear offensive questions don't necessarily breech party rules.

"We do accept that there may have been an element to this question that has passed the line in terms of offending someone," Mr Quigley said.

In regards to the question about the support of Mr Bruem's partner, Mr Quigley said a similar question was asked in the standardised questioning by the preselection committee.

He rejected claims it was homophobic and he said it wasn't unusual for questions asked by the committee to be repeated by a member of the public.

Putting himself in Mr Bruem's shoes, Mr Quigley said the former candidates reaction to the questions during and post-meeting were understandable.

However, he said the context of social media commentary may have made Mr Bruem feel the question and those following it were "more pointed".

He said in his 10 years with the party, Mr Quigley said there have been a number of party members who have been openly gay in NSW Parliament.

Mr Bruem has announced he has now left the party.

Mr Barilaro has been contacted for comment by The Northern Star.

Original story: STATE Deputy Premier John Barilaro has criticised the 'inappropriate' questions asked of his friend, unsuccessful and openly gay candidate Rod Bruem, during the controversial Nationals pre-selection process for the seat of Lismore.

The minister's remarks contrast the findings of the party's ethics committee.

Earlier this week the committee ruled that it was "satisfied that no questions to any of the pre-selection candidates breached the party's rules of debate which protect members from disorderly personal reflections".

Mr Barilaro was interviewed as part of 7.30's coverage of the backlash over the contentious meeting at the weekend where Mr Bruem alleged he was subject to "damaging character attacks dressed up as questions".

"Questions based off innuendo rumour or what may have been commentary on social media, I don't believe are appropriate and the question I asked myself - would those questions have been asked of any other candidate?" Mr Barilaro told 7.30.

"The (answer) was no, it wasn't so why would Rod have to endure those questions?

"But what has happened to Rod, there is no question, has set this party backwards.

"It's my job to stand up when I see something that is wrong and that's why I am standing up."

Mr Barilaro and Mr Bruem forged and maintained a professional friendship when he was a senior media role for Telstra in the early 2000s.

Mr Bruem's partner, Phil Terry, was also interviewed on the program and said the questioning went beyond the hard game of politics.

"It's not politics because it's not and I don't think anyone should be behaving like that or making those allegations, totally inaccurate," Mr Terry said.

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