November 13, 2017 05:58 GMT by theguardian.com

Queensland One Nation leader says sorry for saying girls taught to use dildos

Queensland One Nation leader says sorry for saying girls taught to use dildos

But Steve Dickson stands by claim that Safe Schools program teaches girls how to use sex toys

One Nation’s Queensland leader has apologised for using the word “dildo”, but not for falsely claiming girls were being taught how to use sex toys in primary schools.

Steve Dickson, a former Newman government minister who defected to One Nation after being left out of the shadow LNP cabinet, claimed on Saturday the Safe Schools program involved “young girls being taught by teachers how to masturbate, how to strap on dildos”.

He blamed a parent of a year four student for the erroneous information.

The Safe Schools program is available in Queensland schools, but is not taught as part of the curriculum – it is used as a resource for teachers and parents, if requested. It does not involve education on how to use sex toys.

Dickson has vowed to scrap it if re-elected, a prospect several polls of the traditional LNP seat of Buderim north of Brisbane have found to be an increasing uphill battle.

Dickson issued a statement on Monday “clarifying” his comments. He said he stood by the spirit of his call to abolish the program in all Queensland schools, but apologised “if the specific words I used offended anyone”.

“But I make no apology for One Nation’s policy to remove the controversial Safe Schools program from Queensland classrooms,” he said.

“No child should be bullied at school for any reason, but this program is not an anti-bullying program.”

Hanson, who stood next to Dickson as he made the comments on Saturday, attempted to use Safe Schools to deflect attention from a candidate whose sex shop social media page had compared “good sex” with the “grey area between tickle fight and domestic violence”.

One Nation is running in 61 seats in Queensland. The LNP has preferenced One Nation above Labor in 50 seats, and Labor above One Nation in eight, including Dickson’s electorate of Buderim. In the remaining three three electorates, the LNP has had a bet each way, with “back to back” preference cards, offering Labor ahead of One Nation on one side, and One Nation ahead of Labor on the other.

On Monday the leader of the LNP, Tim Nicholls, said he was surprised to learn of reports of One Nation volunteers handing out LNP how-to-vote cards 12 days out from the election, but would be unhappy if it was the case.

“I haven’t heard of those sort of things,” he said.

One Nation’s support in regional and rural Queensland may give it the balance of power in the state, with the LNP and Labor fighting it out for a majority government in a volatile electorate.

Queensland’s unions have been running a counter campaign against One Nation, particularly in Ipswich where Malcolm Roberts, who was ousted from the federal Senate for being a dual citizen, is running.

Not4Sale, a union-led movement, has released video of Roberts supporters calling protesters “paedophiles” as the two groups clashed at a barbecue on Saturday.

Roberts retweeted a claim that union officials had initiated the incident.

Labor holds the seat of Ipswich with a 16% margin.

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