EXCLUSIVE: He is the sitting Liberal MP for the seat of Brisbane. But Trevor Evans is facing a tough battle to keep a hold of his position in Parliament. Is that why he has taken to using old testimonials on election brochures without the knowledge of those who gave them? And why have so many other Liberal candidates been caught out doing the same? Linda Rose investigates.
Among the multitude of election material being distributed to the citizens of inner city suburb New Farm (indigenous name Binkenba), many from Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Services Trevor Evans, stand out for not standing out as originating from a member of the Liberal National Party.
Evans, formerly Peter Dutton’s chief-of-staff, is the LNP member for the electorate of Brisbane and has held the seat since 2016.
Although he replaced LNP member Teresa Gambaro as MP, Brisbane has traditionally been a Labor seat, and is currently considered marginal.
Evans’ holds the seat by a margin of only 4.9%.
A Trevor Evans promotional flyer delivered in early May, ‘What are locals really saying [emphasis in original] about Trevor Evans MP?,’ is full gloss but empty of LNP branding while featuring lots of pink.
Sixteen purported residents of his electorate Brisbane are pictured along with their quotes praising the 40 year old former economist.
Something else missing from Evans flyer is people of colour. There are over 20 people in the photographs in this leaflet and most if not all of them are white.
New Farm was originally a suburb of immigrants and today a higher than average number of residents were born overseas.
While Italian is the language other than English most spoken, Cantonese, Napli and Spanish speakers are also a notable portion of the population.
The most glaring omission in the pink flyer is the permission of at least several of the people quoted.
In what seems to be an attempt to appeal to progressive voters Evans’ leaflet features quotes from a number of leaders of not-for-profit organisations.
Last week True Crime News Weekly contacted one of the CEOs featured to question their participation in the electoral material.
Prior to this phone call they had no knowledge they had been featured in material produced for Evans during the election campaign.
They were firm in their assurance that their charity did not endorse any particular political party.
Two other charities contacted for this article declined to return True Crime News Weekly phone calls but have since been quoted in other media as saying they had no prior knowledge of the flyer.
And it seems the idea of ‘fake’ or at the very least misleading testimonials may be a widespread phenomenon amongst the Liberal Party this federal election campaign.
There is cause for possible concern that the misleading testimonials may be a concerted effort being directed by Liberal HQ with a number of other Coalition candidates, including Communications Minister Paul Fletcher and embattled Reid MP Fiona Martin being called out community organisations and mental health groups for using quotes without their permission on election material.
Evans’s fellow Coalition MP, Julian Simmonds, has also in the past couple days been called out for using testimonials from unaware veterans groups.
Pages and testimonials from the pink coloured election brochure of Liberal MP Trevor Evans (Images: Supplied)
Upon calling Evans’ electoral office, a worker by the name ‘Meg’ told us the CEOs had permission from their board to make the statements of endorsement.
She said this meant they were not risking their charity status.
The Charities and Not-for-profits Commission clearly states that promoting a political party or candidate for political office will lead to disqualification of a registered charity.
Evans was one of the openly gay members of parliament in Australia and the pink colouring of some of his election material is an appeal to the pink vote especially in New Farm which has a history of LGBTIQA+ residents.
This is probably why a quote from Tiernan Brady is featured on the pink flyer promoting locals’ love of Evans.
Tiernan Brady is an Irish-Australian who moved to Australia to work on the marriage equality campaign.
He lived in Sydney for 20 months while being the Executive Director of The Equality Campaign.
It’s in this role that he ‘provided’ this quote, although he is currently Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Clifford Chance in London.
He has worked for the multi national law firm since 2019. Brady was contacted for this article but has not responded. [NOTE: Following the publication of this article, the Equality Campaign stated that the quote and image of its former member was used in the Liberal Party brochure “without our knowledge or authorisation.”]
Evans’ campaign appears to be an exercise in ‘pinkwashing’.
Pinkwashing is the appropriation of LGBTIQA+ to promote a particular political or corporate agenda.
While he was active in the campaign for equal marriage he is voting with his party on the religious discrimination bill.
So what do locals really think about Trevor Evans?
“Trevor Evans might be gay, but he’s no friend of the trans and queer communities,” queer liberation activist, Taylor Redwood, told True Crime News Weekly.
“Whether it’s voting for religious discrimination, a criminally inadequate climate policy, or tax breaks for housing investors, Trevor has consistently shown he’s willing to sacrifice the most vulnerable in our communities at the altar of big business and corporate profit.”
Evans has always voted with the LNP in parliament and has expressed no dissent to the Religious Discrimination Act which PM Scott Morrison is planning to pursue after the election if he’s returned to office.
Amnesty International is campaigning against the bill and made this statement:
“Australian Government’s Religious Discrimination Bill is a backward step, threatening to wind back the rights and hard-fought protections of LGBTIQA+ people, women, people with disability and even other people of faith, by allowing people to use religion to discriminate against others.”
Members of Evans’ party such as Katherine Deves have made transphobic comments during this election campaign which have been given disproportionate attention by the mainstream media.
Antony says a transgender friend recently experienced a hate crime which has left her fearful to leave the house.
“Trevor Evans doesn’t seem to make the connection that by representing a conservative political party which is guided by religious doctrines he makes it okay for hate crimes to happen,” he said.
“As long as he’s supporting an ultra-Christian party, he will never be supporting the queer community.”
Evans’ is thought to be in danger of losing Brisbane to Australian Labor Party candidate Madonna Jarrett or Stephen Bates of The Greens.