A number of Young Liberals have been implicated in a controversy involving derogatory comments made in a group chat towards a woman on Tinder, the Sydney Morning Herald reported earlier this week. Four of the individuals involved were suspended from the Liberal Party for a period of six months, and two were fired from their state government jobs.
Honi can reveal the identity of several of the individuals, two of whom are students of the University of Sydney. Alex Doherty, Treasurer of the USyd Politics Society in 2018, shared a screenshot of a text exchange with woman from Tinder to a group chat conceived for the purpose of election campaigning. Kerrod Gream, former USU board candidate, commented on the appearance of the woman whose photo had been shared, suggesting that Doherty would not want to “bang a potato.”
Jacob Sich, a Wollongong Young Liberal, also contributed to the exchange of messages. Sich was the first to compare the woman to a potato, going on to add “root and boot her and leave her some HTVs [how to votes].”
Two women in the group chat confronted Gream and Sich during the course of the conversation.
“Have some manners boys… that’s foul,” one said.
“People wonder why women don’t want to join the Liberal party,” another added. “Just look at this chat.”
The group chat contained seventeen members, including Young Liberals President Harry Stutchbury. Honi contacted Stutchbury, Gream and Doherty for comment. Sich was not available for comment. Neither Gream nor Stutchbury responded. Doherty responded via a lawyer, stating that he did not make further comment in the chat and was “disgusted”. Further screenshots obtained by Honi show Doherty saying “Well i [sic] think she’s gonna vote liberal – you’re welcome”, going on to say “sorry to have started it”.
Both Gream and Doherty have had notable political careers both in and out of USyd. Gream is known to have been a staffer for Adam Marshall, the Minister for Tourism and Major Events in the NSW Liberal Government. Doherty is known to have been a staffer for Felicity Wilson, a NSW Liberal MP. Sich is known as a staffer for NSW MP Gareth Ward.