'He was visibly hurt and we will look into that'
Update 8.50am: NATIONAL party leaders have said they will investigate allegations that the Lismore preselection was homophobic by an unsuccessful candidate.
The party's state director, Nathan Quigley, said Rod Bruem was subject to "heavy questioning" at the preselection 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.
"It seems that he's made allegations that a Labor party smear campaign has made its sway through to the floor of the meeting," Mr Quigley said.
"We will take a look at that, we take these kinds of things really seriously.
"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 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 preselection.
"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."
Mr Quigley reinforced that the party was not homophobic.
Original story: A LISMORE businessman and farmer has called for an investigation into the weekend's Nationals Lismore pre-selection process.
Rod Bruem was unsuccessful in pre-selection, but has appealed for the party's State Director to suspend the result pending an investigation by the party's Ethics Committee.
Mr Bruem, the first openly gay man to run for a NSW Nationals lower house seat, said he was stripped of his branch endorsement after a "sustained series of false and defamatory claims made during the preselection meeting".
He said it was a "disgusting and baseless attack" and the claims should have been ruled out of order.
"It was pretty much a dog whistling session to the homophobes," Mr Bruem said.
"I've asked the State Director to refer this to the Party's Ethics Committee for a full investigation.
"My decision to seek this appeal follows a series of calls from party members who've told me they were appalled by what happened and saying it should have been addressed more appropriately on the day.
"I believe the circumstances need to be investigated to uphold the party's good reputation for acting in a fair and honourable way.
"My backgrounds and credentials were fully investigated by the party along with all six other candidates before any of us could proceed to yesterday's meeting.
"None of the other candidates faced questions like I did.
"I am absolutely proud of my record in business, politics, and the community.
"I'm not prepared to have my reputation dragged through the mud by people who are supposed to be party colleagues.
"The fact I was subjected to some sort of 'trial by accusation' session in what should have been a Q&A on policy was completely inappropriate.
"The National Party has a bleak future if it allows this sort of homophobic abuse and bad behaviour to stand."
The Northern Star will be seeking comment from the Nationals on this matter.