By Royce Millar & Ben Schneiders
A doctor and senior Mormon who blames ungodly love for HIV, as well as a prominent campaigner against the Safe Schools program, have been elected to positions in the Victorian Liberal Party.
They are among at least five Mormons elected as party officers at last week’s state conference.
Infectious diseases specialist Dr Ivan Stratov won a seat on the party’s powerful administrative committee as part of a ticket of ultra-conservatives and religious activists who are centred around 28-year-old Liberal factional whirlwind, Marcus Bastiaan.
Liberal elders believe Dr Stratov to be the first Mormon to hold a senior party position in Victoria.
Also elected, but in a more junior position as a party delegate, was controversial anti-Safe Schools campaigner, .
In her Liberal delegate campaign statement she described herself as a ''lobbyist against the appalling Marxist Safe Schools programs’’.
Ms Rancie, in online videos, called on Victorian parents to get ‘‘really angry’’ about the Safe Schools program, which she said was ‘‘grooming’’ children.
The Department of Education has said a number of claims made by Ms Rancie were false.
Sources confirmed that five or more Mormons were elected as party delegates, including Cynthia Watson and her husband Elliot, out of 79 people elected to party positions.
Where their conservative morality has made Mormons reliable supporters of the Republican Party in the US – especially in their home state of Utah – Australian Mormons have not traditionally been prominent in party politics.
But in recent years in Victoria, key Mormon figures have been active in Mr Bastiaan’s statewide party rejuvenation and recruitment campaign, which has been .
The Bastiaan faction’s push for power paid off at last weekend’s Liberal State Council when it won 13 of 19 seats on the powerful administrative committee in an alliance with party president Michael Kroger and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
Mr Bastiaan was elected party vice-president.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott also recently met senior Mormons and missionaries in Melbourne where he reportedly spoke of his own experience of training to be a Catholic priest.
Dr Stratov was previously involved in the Family First Party. Alongside Mr Bastiaan, he has actively recruited Mormons and others to the Liberal party.
approached Dr Stratov for comment.
In 2017, Dr Stratov sparked controversy while speaking at an anti-Safe Schools forum in Bendigo, part of his Liberal recruitment drive, when he blamed HIV on lapsed moral judgement.
“I studied a disease called HIV; 35 million people have died from that disease because they all decided they were going to make man’s love, not God’s love,” Dr Stratov reportedly told his audience.
quoted Dr Stratov in 2017 as saying that his task for signing up new Liberal members had been made easier by community anger over progressive policies including the Safe Schools program and the assisted dying legislation.
How many Mormons have signed up to the Liberal party is unclear. One senior conservative estimates there are about 50 across Victoria, others say the figure is much higher.
Some more moderate Liberals see last weekend’s result as an effective takeover of the party by social conservatives likely to lead to more progressive Liberal MPs being replaced.
They also fear that many moderates and progressives may now abandon the party.Further reading at the links below:
Who's behind the Safe Schools videos?
Marijke Rancie on Facebook as Political Posting Mumma