• An Australia Day protest on January 26, 2016. (AAP)Source: AAP
Ben Willis’ Facebook comments prompts Labor to call for candidate to step down while government urges electorate to 'move on'.
By
Myles Morgan

Source:
NITV News
22 Jun 2016 - 5:06 PM  UPDATED 22 Jun 2016 - 5:08 PM

A Liberal Party candidate who said Invasion Day activists should be 'hit in the face' has apologised and 'it’s time to move on', according to the Federal Government.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann addressed Ben Willis’ Facebook comments this morning in Canberra.

“That candidate has unreservedly apologised for the comments he has made and let’s move on,” he told reporters.

The candidate for the Victorian seat of Gellibrand, near Melbourne, made the comments in a Facebook post on Australia Day.

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“If you describe Australia Day as “invasion day” you need a high five. In the face. With a chair,” he posted.

“These are completely unacceptable comments. He accepts they’re unacceptable and he has unreservedly apologised,” Minister Cormann said.

Labor’s Penny Wong said Mr Willis’ comments should be condemned and he should be sacked as a candidate.

Proud of Australia's Aboriginal heritage

In a statement, Ben Willis said he was sorry for the remark.

"As I also commented on Facebook that same day: 'Australia Day is also a celebration of the nation's Indigenous heritage and how the first peoples of Australia are now considered equal under the law, which is exactly how it should be,” he said.

"I am incredibly proud to call myself Australian, and I am proud of both our Aboriginal heritage and also our British heritage."

His comments follow Malcolm Turnbull weighing in to the Australia Day debate earlier in the election.

When asked if Australia’s colonisation could be described as an invasion, the Prime Minister said it “could be fairly described as that”.

Western Australian candidate and Aboriginal woman Tammy Solonec has also previously called for the date of Australia Day to be moved out of respect to Indigenous people.

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