Councillor’s retweets not a statement of support for Yiannopoulos

Recent Twitter activity by councillor Mark Schweikert highlights his interest in freedom of speech, not support for a controversial far right political figure, he says.

The president of the Bungendore Liberals and Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor retweeted a December 29 post by Mark Latham in which the former Labor leader defended Milo Yiannopoulos.

Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor Mark Schweikert. Photo: supplied. Image: ACM

Queanbeyan-Palerang councillor Mark Schweikert. Photo: supplied. Image: ACM

Mr Yiannopoulos is a self-described "cultural libertarian" and critic of social movements, such as feminism, and Islam, who recently visited Australia to publicise his autobiography.

Mr Latham's tweet read:

“Hilarious to watch shrill Lefties, who have not read Milo Yiannopoulos’s book, trying to denigrate it through tangential editorial comments. Milo is an insurgent Truth-Teller. As he says, quoting Orwell, 'In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act'.”

Cr Schweikert said Mr Latham’s comment was “interesting” in relation to freedom of speech.

He had never seen Mr Yiannopoulos, or heard anything he’s ever done, he said.

“My information on that basically came from what Mark Latham was saying, in that no one was giving him [Mr Yiannopoulos] a fair go to speak,” Cr Schweikert said.

"In Australia we value our freedom of speech and so if anyone, regardless of their political views, had received such treatment, I probably would have been as disappointed with their treatment as anyone else."

Mr Yiannopoulos caused controversy in 2016, saying sexual relationships between young teenage boys and adult men and women could happen “consensually”.

He has also described feminism as “cancer” and said Muslim immigrants were skilled at “raping women, planning terrorist attacks, signing up to welfare...”

Cr Schweikert's Twitter account ‘Cr. Mark Schweikert’ is his own and not official QPRC media.

Of the remaining 10 QPRC councillors, Mayor Tim Overall and Crs Brian Brown and Radmila Noveska have public pages on both Twitter and Facebook; Crs Peter Marshall, Michelle Biscotti and Kenrick Winchester have public Facebook pages; and Crs Trudy Taylor, Pete Harrison, Trevor Hicks and Peter Bray have no known public social media pages.

QPRC’s draft social media and media policies are due to be discussed at a council meeting on Wednesday, January 24, a council spokesperson said.

“Councillors and staff will be guided by these policies once they are adopted,” the spokesperson said.