Former Australian of the Year says Liberal MP Fiona Martin selectively quoted him in political endorsement without his knowledge – ABC News

Posted: May 11, 2022 at 11:44 am

A former Australian of the Year and mental health advocate says Liberal MP Fiona Martin's campaign has selectively quoted him in a reelection endorsement for her without his knowledge.

Patrick McGorry, the executive director of Orygen and professor of youth mental health at the University of Melbourne, has asked the Member for Reid to take down a digital ad in which he was featured.

Professor McGorry told the ABC he was "very concerned" by the ads, targeted at young adults under 35 years old, published across Facebook and Instagram.

"I've called her to say I'm extremely concerned ... that my image and supportive comments have been used in the election campaign," he said.

"This was done without my knowledge and the authorisation and I've asked her to remove that from her election material."

Dr Martin told the ABC she had agreed to this request.

Professor McGorry said he sent Dr Martin an email in March, before the election was called to thankher for chairing a parliamentary inquiry into mental health which was tabled at the end of last year.

Dr Martin's ad, which also spruiked her involvement in mental health services, used only the first and last sentence of the 214-word email he sent her.

"Dear Fiona, I wanted to thank you for your committed and effective advocacy for investment and reform in mental health care," the ad read over an image of Professor McGorry.

"You have been a tireless leader and advocate for mental health not only nationally but also in your own Community. I hope your efforts are successful."

The below is the full email Patrick McGorry sent Fiona Martin on March 22, which he has given the ABC permission to publish. The bolded sections are words which were used in DrMartin's ads.

Dear Fiona

I wanted to thank you for your committed and effective advocacy for investment and reform in mental health care. The parliamentary inquiry you chaired on mental health, in collaboration with Emma McBride from the ALP, was a key bipartisan process which has moved things forward in several important ways. Your professional background as a psychologist proved invaluable and is a unique asset for the field within the current parliament. As you know, I led the advocacy alongside Angus Cleland of Mental Health Victoria which led to the creation and funding of the adult mental health hub model. Now branded as Head to Health Centres these are being scaled up nationally, again with bipartisan support as has occurred with headspace. I am delighted that you have been advocating strongly to have one of these key platforms of care in your own electorate. These hubs are essential backup systems of care for GPs and psychologists for the missing middle those Australians with more complex and sustained mental health conditions for which primary care is simply insufficient on its own. In this and many other ways you have been a tireless leader and advocate for mental health not only nationally but also in your own community. I hope your efforts are successful. Kind regards Pat McGorry

Professor McGorry said the quotes were selectively taken from his email, that he did not consent to it being published, and the ad could compromise his advocacy work.

"I've been absolutely strict over many years about a bipartisan approach to mental health ... so I'm very surprised to hear that information," Professor McGorry said.

"It seems to be implied in that statement that I'm basically advocating people vote for her, and I certainly never would have said that."

Dr Martin, in a statement to the ABC, said she had spoke to Professor McGorry and would remove the advertising.

"I have enormous respect for Professor Patrick McGorry," she said.

"We have been able to work closely together to achieve important outcomes in mental health and suicide prevention. Earlier this year, I asked Pat for words of endorsement that he had kindly provided, and unfortunately there was a misunderstanding about how those words would be used.

"We have spoken today, and I offered to rectify this misunderstanding by removing the advertising, which he has accepted."

The electorate is crucial for the Liberal Party in this election, and Dr Martin, who holds the Western Sydney seat by a 3.2 per cent margin, is trying to withstand a challenge from Labor candidate Sally Sitou.

It is the second time in less than a day Dr Martin has come under the spotlight while on the campaign trail.

Her Labor opponent Ms Sitou, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, has accused Dr Martin of confusing her for another Asian-Australian during a heated debate on 2GB.

The Coalition has faced a barrage of criticism for featuring prominent charity figures and community leaders on endorsement materials without their knowledge or permission.

News Corp on Wednesday reported that Ryan MP Julian Simmonds had distributed what purported to be a personal endorsement from a priest without authorisation.

The Guardian reported that The Pyjama Foundation and Access Arts both demanded Brisbane MP Trevor Evans stop distributing material that appeared to offer him their endorsements.

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Posted6h ago6 hours agoWed 11 May 2022 at 9:06am, updated1h ago1 hours agoWed 11 May 2022 at 1:47pm

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Former Australian of the Year says Liberal MP Fiona Martin selectively quoted him in political endorsement without his knowledge - ABC News

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