THE Liberal candidate for Midland, Daniel Parasiliti, said he was “beyond shattered” by racist social media posts from eight years ago that resurfaced last week.
The comments – made when Mr Parasiliti was 25-years-old – reappeared at the weekend, just weeks after he was re-endorsed to take on Labor incumbent Michelle Roberts.
Mr Parasiliti said the slurs were found after many hours of trawling through his Facebook account.
“I did not know they existed, nor do I support (the comments) today,” he told the Gazette.
“But I take full, unconditional responsibility and sincerely apologise to both my local Wadjuk people and the greater indigenous community.”
Mr Parasiliti was defeated by Ms Roberts in the 2013 State election by just 24 votes.
He was elected as a City of Swan councillor shortly after, and has campaigned for local government transparency measures, the Guildford Hotel’s restoration and support for community groups in the Swan region, with a particular interest in the local indigenous community.
“I sit on four or five volunteer boards, outside my work and council commitments,” he said.
“I want to ensure that better services are delivered to my local Wadjuk.”
Aboriginal co-convener of the Bring Them Home Committee of WA Jim Morrison said Mr Parasiliti needed to apologise for his “outrageous and ill-informed comments”.
“When then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered an Apology to the Stolen Generations in 2008, the Bringing Them Home Committee (WA) expressed concern that unless the broader community understood the context and history around the removal of Aboriginal children from their families, the apology would have little meaning or impact,” he said.
Mr Parasiliti said he would be more than willing to apologise directly. “I couldn’t agree more with Mr Morrison,” he said.
“Which is the reason I publicly apologised to the media, where I individually apologised to each of my many groups I represent.
“I gave them private apology as well.
“I also want to call Jim Morrison to privately apologise to him.”
Hasluck MHR Ken Wyatt said he supported Mr Parasiliti.
“The Daniel I know today is very different guy to the one in the Facebook posts,” he said.
“He has a very strong involvement with the Aboriginal community and I’ve doorknocked with him and seen the way he relates to the community.”
Mr Wyatt, Australia’s first indigenous frontbencher, said he accepted his apology.
“The mistakes an individual makes when not fully informed of the issues is understandable, so as a friend and colleague of his I forgive him for those mistakes.”
Mr Parasiliti said it was up to the Liberal Party to decide if it still wanted him to run for the seat.
“The Premier knows how passionate I am in bridging the gap for my local community,” he said.
Premier Colin Barnett confirmed he would support Mr Parasiliti. “The posts were a mistake, but it happened before he became involved in politics,” Mr Barnett said.
“I think he’s an outstanding young man that’s done an enormous amount of good work for the community in the Midland area, so I think we can forgive and let him get on with his life and get on with his career.”
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan called on Mr Parasiliti to stand down as a Liberal candidate, labelling his comments as “beyond appalling”.
“That sort of commentary is the sort of stuff that would make Donald Trump blush,” Mr McGowan said.
Mr Parasiliti – who has three children under the age of three – said although it was up to the Liberal Party to give the final answer, he still could not definitely confirm he would run for the seat in the March 2017.
“The last few weeks have been extremely traumatic for me and my family,” he said.
“I’ll sit down with my wife regarding the campaign.
“We have a young family, I’ve got three kids, I don’t play dirty, I play policy.
“I fight for the 6056 (Midland) by relentless passion.”