FORMER Liberal Lyons candidate Jessica Whelan, who polled strongly in the New Norfolk area at the last Federal election, has revealed she remains a member of the Liberal Party and won’t rule out seeking Liberal preselection again in the future.
Ms Whelan was sensationally disendorsed by the Liberal Party in the middle of the Federal election campaign, but still gained 44.8 per cent of the vote in Lyons as an independent.
“I’m a true Liberal at heart and I’ll continue to work hard so that hopefully I’ll get another shot at running as a Liberal candidate,” Ms Whelan said.
“I understand why in the heat of the election campaign it was necessary for me to resign as the Liberal candidate, and I hold no grudges or Ill-feeling to anyone in the Liberal Party,” Ms Whelan said.
However, Ms Whelan said she believed she had been punished enough for her past social media errors.
“Yes I did the crime but I also feel that I did the time,” Ms Whelan said.
“Most credible observers agree I could well have been the Federal member for Lyons right now if I hadn’t been disendorsed.
“So I suffered a pretty big punishment for some naive Facebook comments I made in the past.
“Not to mention the very nasty stuff I got on social media and on my phone, including the threats to myself and my family.
“But when things calmed down I realized that most of that nasty stuff was from people who didn’t even live in Tasmania, let alone Lyons.”
Ms Whelan said when she made those posts the thought of running for Parliament had never even entered her mind.
“If potential political candidates were prevented from running based on naive things said or done in the past, there would be nobody in Parliament.
“I now understand that the things I said during that period of my life were hurtful and wrong, so I apologise for that.”
Last week the Australian Federal Police announced that they would not be investigating the particularly distasteful post that Ms Whelan claimed was forged.
“An IT expert had told me that the post appeared to have been doctored, but I have moved on.
“I think we all agree the AFP have more important things to do than investigate who manipulated my social media posts.”
And are there more Jessica Whelan social media posts out there as yet undiscovered?
Jess is philosophical.
“Who knows, it was a long time ago. But if there are, it doesn’t change anything. I’ve learned, I’ve grown as an individual, and I hope people will judge me by who I am now, not who I was then,” Ms Whelan said.
The DVG contacted the Liberal Party for a response. State President Geoff Page confirmed that Ms Whelan remains a member of the Liberal Party and said that any hypothetical future endorsement of Ms Whelan would be a matter for party members.