South Australian Opposition Leader Pulls Out Of Anti-Abortion Event After Backlash
Greens MLC Tammy Franks called him out for agreeing to speak at an anti-abortion event in Adelaide.
South Australian Liberal Leader David Speirs abruptly pulled out of a speaking arrangement at an anti-abortion event in Adelaide over the weekend after being called out.
Speirs, who recently took over as opposition leader after Steven Marshall’s resignation, was scheduled to speak as a panellist and mentor at The Enid Lyons List “youth training day” in Thebarton on Saturday, which was heralded as a “safe space” for women between 16-35.
According to the group’s Facebook event, the training day was an opportunity to “discuss and seek solutions to the critical issues and challenges that confront us as we face the most pro-abortion laws in Australia’s history”.
“We need to activate a new generation to rise up and fight for the human rights of the unborn,” the Facebook description read. “Come engage with speakers who will present on the case against abortion to birth.”
In addition to Speirs’ attendance, Labor’s Claire Scriven was also listed as a special guest.
Greens MLC Tammy Franks Slams Speirs
On Friday, a day before the youth training day, Greens MLC Tammy Franks spoke to a crowd of approximately 5000 people at Adelaide’s Roe V Wade protest.
During her lengthy speech, Franks criticised Speirs for choosing to attend the anti-abortion event, which was scheduled for the same day as the by-election for the seat of Bragg, instead of working the polling booths. The seat of Bragg was previously held by former Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman, a key figure in South Australia’s abortion decriminalisation, who resigned when Speirs took over at the turn of the last election.
“David Speirs, as Liberal leader, stands in stark contrast of Vickie Chapman, who championed the decriminalization of abortion as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party,” Franks said in her speech. “The Liberal Party in South Australia is not the party of human rights and respect for women. It shows on their benches in this Parliament, and it shows in the actions of the Liberal leader of the South Australian Liberal Parliamentary Party turning up to give succour and comfort to anti-abortion activism. It is shocking.”
Speaking to Junkee, Franks asserted that Speirs’ leadership has pushed the party further right.
“The Liberal Party [in South Australia] has become far more right-wing with the new leadership and that’s what I was calling out,” Franks told Junkee.
Speirs Has An Explosive Outburst
Speirs addressed the media as part of election day coverage on Saturday, where he was — understandably — quizzed on his decision to speak at an anti-abortion event in the wake of the Roe v Wade ruling, and at the same time that South Australia is finalising its own decriminalisation legislation.
In an explosive outburst, Speirs slammed the “rabid left” and asserted the group was focussed on empowering women.
“The Enid Lyons List is an organisation which seeks to empower women and to promote women into leadership,” he said. “It is disappointing that the rabid left of politics led by Tammy Franks from the Greens has really attacked this organisation.
“I want to respect people who have different views on issues across this state.”
Speirs confirmed he was due to speak at the event but pulled out at the last minute. He stressed that his invitation to the event did not mean he was against the decriminalisation of abortion.
“I am not trying to ban abortion. I think it should be decriminalised and I have said that on the public record many times,” said Speirs. “I think that all people should be respected no matter their view.
“The noisy, angry, violent, hateful left is not the sort of politics I want to be involved in.”
Speirs Has A History Of Mixing Church And State
While he stressed that his participation in the event did not mean he was campaigning for the criminalisation of abortion, it’s worth noting that Speirs has previously made some pretty questionable comments about abortion and religion.
Last year, amid South Australia’s push to decriminalise abortion, Speirs spoke at a Pentecostal event — in which he claimed the decriminalisation was being used as a “trojan horse” and a pathway to late-term abortion.
At the same event, Speirs claimed you can’t separate church and state.
“This idea of the separation of church and state — forget it!” he said.
In a statement to Junkee, Franks alleged that Speirs doesn’t like being called out for these things. “He’s an interesting one, he pretends to be many things that he is not — and he does not like being called out on it,” said Franks.
The Enid Lyons List Accuses Franks Of Inciting Violence
Co-convenor of the Enid Lyons List event Joanna Howe also accused the media and Franks of “wilfully mischaracterising” the event.
“Tammy Franks told the crowd to attend our event, to oppose it, to picket it … and the substantive effects of that was to disrupt our event and to compromise the safety of the vulnerable young women attending,” Howe told the ABC.
However, Franks has rejected this claim — noting that she did not say the word “rally” or refer to the event as a protest at any point in her speech.
“The allegations that the Enid Lyons List media release and Joanna Howe have made, as well as the Liberal Leader, are all false and I am seeking advice on my options,” Franks told Junkee, stressing that she quoted the event’s own description.
Junkee has reached out to David Speirs for comment.