Lismore businessman Rod Bruem has called for an investigation into the weekend's Nationals Lismore pre-selection process.
Lismore businessman Rod Bruem has called for an investigation into the weekend's Nationals Lismore pre-selection process. Marc Stapelberg

Deputy Premier supports gay Nats candidate after 'attack'

A LISMORE businessman will be fighting to appeal what he claimed was a sinister and homophobic attack against him during the Nationals pre-selection at the weekend.

Rod Bruem, one of the first openly gay men to run for a NSW Nationals lower house seat, has appealed for the party to suspend the result pending an investigation by the party's Ethics Committee.

It comes after what he claimed were defamatory questions asked by members of the public about his past and his partner were made with a "nasty vein" .

Mr Bruem described it as a "disgusting and baseless attack" and that the claims should have been ruled out of order.

"As a gay man, I suffered discrimination in my 20s in the workplace and it was horrific," Mr Bruem said.

"It temporarily destroyed my career as a journalist. I would not put up with that sort of behaviour now at this stage of my life."

Deputy Premier John Barilaro was among left and right leaning politicians who reached out to Mr Bruem in recent days to offer their support.

Former mayor of Lismore and Labor Party member Jenny Dowell messaged Mr Bruem and commended him for standing up for himself and said "the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept".

Nationals state director, Nathan Quigley said Mr Bruem was subject to "heavy questioning" at the pre-selection meeting on Saturday at Lismore City Hall.

"There appeared to be strong questioning of Rod, he was visibly hurt by it and we will look into that," Mr Quigley said.

"I couldn't say clearly whether I would call it homophobic."

But he said allegations of discrimination such as Mr Bruem's were taken very seriously by the party and would be investigated.

"We don't take any claim of discrimination lightly but at the same time we do believe in people's robust free speech," Mr Quigley said.

Mr Quigley said he contacted Mr Bruem after the meeting to check if he was okay. During that conversation, Mr Quigley said Mr Bruem was distressed about the process but made no call to suspend the result to launch an investigation into the pre-selection.

"He didn't say he would be referring this on down the chain which is his right to do but it would have been nice if he'd actually done that before going to the media about it," Mr Quigley said.

"I can't say where to from here because I haven't received a complaint. The ball is in his court if he wants to take further action he should do it."

Parliamentary secretary for the North Coast Ben Franklin also offered his support to Mr Bruem after meeting.

Although he recommended Mr Bruem to discuss his concerns with party headquarters, Mr Franklin said the pre-selection process was fair.

"I believe that the pre-selection was run professionally and appropriately and there is no basis whatsoever for overturning it," Mr Franklin said.

Lismore MP Thomas George declined to comment when asked by The Northern Star.