Australia Premier Will Hodgman asked to dump candidate over 'insensitive' Facebook post

10:41  12 january  2018
10:41  12 january  2018 Source:   ABC News

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© Provided by ABC News "There was no offence intended in any way, shape or form," Mr Ellis says. Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman is being asked to disendorse a candidate who has offended Aboriginal groups by sharing "insensitive" material online.

Felix Ellis, a West Coast plumber running as a Liberal candidate for Braddon in the upcoming state election, said the August 2017 post was a text message from a colleague.

The text showed an image of a brick with the words: "Have a look at this do you think it's an ancient aboriginal hammer [sic]".

It was a response to an earlier post of Mr Ellis's in which he asked his Facebook friends if an item he had found on a construction job might be an Aboriginal relic.

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"I work in the construction industry in a mining region and I posted on FB [Facebook] an image of an item I found and was genuinely interested in people's views on," he said in a statement.

Mr Ellis had captioned the picture of his colleague's message saying, "I don't think the work lads are buying my latest efforts in archaeology".

The image was posted several months before he was announced as a Liberal Party candidate in November 2017.

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"There was no offence intended in any way, shape or form," Mr Ellis said.

He did not respond to a request to provide the original post.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation CEO Heather Sculthorpe called on Mr Hodgman to have Mr Ellis disendorsed.

"If he doesn't, it will reinforce the public perception that this is a thoroughly racist government."

The Liberal Tasmanian Government and the TAC had been embroiled in a long-running dispute over the potential reopening of four-wheel-drive tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, which falls within the electorate of Braddon.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Council opposed the move, even taking the government to court, arguing four-wheel-driving would damage Aboriginal middens and heritage sites.

When asked if Mr Ellis should be disendorsed, Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff said: "Mr Ellis is a hardworking young Tasmanian who wants to make a very strong contribution to the future of his region, and our region here in the North-West Coast."

Mr Rockliff would not be drawn on whether Mr Ellis should publicly apologise and said he doubted the matter would weaken the Government's relationship with Aboriginal communities.

"We've developed a strong relationship with the Tasmanian Aboriginal community over the last four years and that will continue," he said.

Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation CEO Diane Baldock said the text message was ridiculing Aboriginal archaeological artefacts, and that sharing it online was insensitive.

"He didn't obviously put much thought into putting in on [Facebook]."

Ms Baldock said the Liberal Government ought to distance itself from the post.

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