Sorry not sorry: Top five worst responses scandalous politicians gave in the federal election

Image: Supplied by ABC


The apology has become an art form. From Bill Clinton’s infamous denial speech “I did not have sexual relations with that woman” to Kevin Spacey’s bizarre apology incorporating denial, amnesia and coming out, I like to think we’ve become more critical of the responses public figures give when they screw up. The 2019 Federal Election was no exception. Here are the top five worst responses from election scandals. 

5. George Hanna, Greens Candidate for Lingiari

Caption: NT News

Our first candidate shared a racist meme on Facebook about CLP candidate Jacinta Price. The post showed Price drinking from a coconut with the caption: “It’s not every day you see a coconut drinking from a coconut.” The term is considered a racial slur that accuses dark-skinned people of acting white. 

Caption: Facebook Post (NT News)


Hanna publicly apologised and offered a personal apology to Price – if she was upset about it. “I wouldn’t lose sleep about this if I was her,” Hanna said. Meanwhile Price called for him to be dumped over the posts she described as “despicable, bullying and racial vilification“. 


Yes he did. The Greens stood by their candidate after a stern talking to. A Greens spokesperson said, “We’ve spoken with George Hanna, our candidate for Lingiari, about the importance of ensuring that criticism of policy doesn’t become personal.” Hanna received 7.8% of first preference votes compared to Price, who received 36%. However, both lost to Labor candidate Warren Snowdon, who received 56.3%. 

4. Peter Killin, Liberal Candidate for Wills 

Caption: ABC News

Killin made homophobic comments back in 2018 about prominent backbencher Tim Wilson. The remarks were made in the comment section of a Christian right-wing blog, as reported in The Age. Killin responded to commentator Michael Taouk who was complaining that the Liberal Party wasn’t doing enough to “remove preselection from that notorious homosexual Tim Wilson”. Mr Killin replied: “Your observations about Mr Wilson, federal member for Goldstein, are most pertinent at this point. Many of us will recall he was the openly homosexual who proposed to his boyfriend in parliment [sic].”

Caption: Blog Post (Daily Mail)

Killin has said that he carries the belief that the “homosexual lifestyle” is “distressingly dangerous” and carries “appalling health risks”.


He was forced to apologise, saying his comments were wrong, however he still kept the comments online.


While Killin initially refused to step down, there was a push for him to be disendorsed. Ultimately, he did not run. Wills was won by Labor candidate Peter Khalil with 45% of first preference votes. 

3. Tony Hanley, United Australia Party Candidate for Bean

Caption: United Australia Party

Hanley was in hot water for sexist and racist remarks posted on social media, to an account linked to his name.

In some of the posts Hanley called Saudi Arabians “tea-towel heads” and women and same-sex attracted women as “fem-nasties”. 

Caption: Facebook Posts (ABC)


Hanley said his actions were justified due to his record of good work in the Canberra community. 


Hanley ran and received 2.3% of first preference votes compared to the electorate champion David Smith with 38.5%. The United Australia Party never made any comments. 

2. Ross Macdonald, One Nation Candidate for Leichhardt 

Caption: Cairns Post

Macdonald was embroiled in a sleazy scandal after social media posts emerged of him groping a woman in Thailand as well as sharing bizarre, sexual images.

Caption: Facebook Post (

Macdonald was the second One Nation candidate to face questions about such behaviour after Steve Dickson was found to be groping female dancers at a US strip club. 


Macdonald was offended when he was questioned about the photographs and said he wouldn’t stand down. “No, I certainly won’t, and I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong,” he said. 


Macdonald ran and received 5.8% of the first preference votes. He came fifth out of eight candidates with the successful candidate Warren Entsch (Liberal) receiving 37.5%. This scandal raised questions about Pauline Hanson’s candidate vetting process. 

1. Jessica Whelan, Liberal Candidate for Lyons

Caption: The Examiner

Whelan made offensive anti-Muslim and anti-Immigrant comments on social media. The controversy erupted in a report containing posts from Whelan, one suggesting that women should have their genitalia mutilated. 

Caption: Facebook Post (


Firstly, Whelan’s spokesperson said that the screenshots of the comments had been doctored in an attempt to smear her.  

The response took a surprising turn when Whelan maintained that she had not made those particular posts but accepted that she made other posts of a similar nature in the past. She said she was “positive” she could still win the seat. 


Whelan was disendorsed by the Liberal Party, however not until after the close of the nominations. Whelan remained listed on the ballot paper as a Liberal candidate. The Liberal Party recommended to supporters to vote for the National Party candidate Deanna Hutchison. Whelan indicated she would run as an Independent. Whelan received 23.3% of first preference votes compared to the victor Brian Mitchell (Labor) with 36.8%. Hutchison received 16.6%.

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I am a third-year journalism student. I enjoy writing print journalism while also combining multimedia elements to my stories. I have interned at Mushroom Group where I’ve been able to learn about the communications aspects of the music industry. I love challenging myself in what types of stories I can write. In particular, I love to write about pop culture, crime and current events.


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