QAnon promoter ‘good friends’ with Prime Minister
The sister of a prominent Australian promoter of the bizarre QAnon conspiracy theory has disputed claims that her brother is just an associate of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying they were long-time family friends.
Karen Stewart, the sister of QAnon booster Tim Stewart, said it was "absolute rubbish'' to claim her brother and Mr Morrison were just associates.
She said they were in fact close family friends for decades whose families had planned to holiday together in Hawaii last Christmas.
Ms Stewart said she had decided to speak out publicly because she was concerned at the "evolution" of QAnon and how it has permeated social media.
"It's divisive,'' she said.
And she said the involvement of her brother and her nephew, both prominent QAnon boosters who have been banned by Twitter for spreading misinformation, was deeply concerning.
"I don't recognise my brother's views now from those he held two years ago. Or my nephew's,'' she said.
"He was always a very loving, caring brother, and we enjoyed a close relationship. As I did with my nephew.''
She said those relationships had been lost and "QAnon has taken hold.''
Tim Stewart declined to answer specific questions about his views, and his relationship with Mr Morrison.
Mr Morrison's office also declined to comment.
Tim Stewart's wife Lynelle works for Mr Morrison's wife Jenny at Kirribilli House and the couples have known each other for years, attending each other's weddings.
Mr Morrison's office has sought to distance the PM from Mr Stewart in recent months, describing the men as associates, but Karen Stewart said this was "absolutely not'' true.
"That's total rubbish. They went to the same church. Jen was bridesmaid at their wedding in the '90s. The couples have spent plenty of time together. Lynelle had a 50th birthday a few years back. Only eight people were invited. I didn't get invited as a sister-in-law. My parents were there and so were Scott and Jen,'' she said.
A social media exchange between the men on one of the Stewart family's Facebook pages also shows Mr Morrison and Mr Stewart bantering over an historical photo, with Mr Morrison teasing Mr Stewart over his hairstyle.
"Happy birthday Tim Stewart - nice to see the mullet out of the time capsule,'' Mr Morrison wrote, several years before he became prime minister.
"Thanks mate,'' Mr Stewart replied.
"I have security out looking for who released that photo so they can be apprehended.''
Mr Morrison's family trip to Hawaii attracted controversy because it came in the middle of the nation's bushfire crisis, and the PM cut the trip short and apologised when he returned to Australia.
While the Stewarts also went to Hawaii at Christmas, there is no evidence they holidayed together.
Ms Stewart, a self-employed accountant from Camden, is six years younger than Tim.
She said she had been present at conversations within her family when the Hawaii holiday was discussed.
"It was on the cards for a long time. I remember it being discussed at Easter in 2019. Tim and Lynelle weren't sure if Scott and Jen would still go with them to Hawaii if they won the election.
"That was the last time I heard about it. It was not the first time.''
Ms Stewart said the Morrisons and her extended family had known each other for years through church.
"Certainly they were at Tim and Lynelle's wedding and kids' birthdays over time. I spoke to Jen on the phone some years later when they were trying to have children. They know mum and dad and mum's broader family,'' she said.
"In their younger years, Lynelle, Jen and Scott had crossovers of church and schools in the eastern suburbs.''
Ms Stewart said she was currently estranged from her brother.
Originally published as QAnon promoter 'good friends' with Prime Minister