Daniel Andrews accuses Scott Morrison of 'pandering to extremists'

The Victorian premier says Scott Morrison's failure to condemn last week's protests in Melbourne was "offensive" to Victorians, while Labor's Jim Chalmers says the prime minister is playing "a dangerous game".

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews

Daniel Andrews says Prime Minister Scott Morrison's failure to condemn violent protesters is offensive to all vaccinated Victorians. Source: AAP

Daniel Andrews has accused Scott Morrison of "pandering to extremists" following another large protest in Melbourne on Saturday against the Victorian government's contentious pandemic bill and vaccine mandates.

The Victorian premier also said the prime minister's failure to condemn the protesters was offensive to the five million Victorians who had received their COVID-19 jabs.


“We are open and why the prime minister, or anybody else, instead of just standing up on Thursday and condemning violence and congratulating Victorians for what they’d done couldn’t do that, he was incapable of doing that. That speaks to him, his character and his leadership," Mr Andrews said in a press conference on Sunday.

“I am offended on behalf of all Victorians. Why would you, would anyone, let alone our national leader take away from five million Victorians, the credit that belongs to them? The fact that he couldn’t just pause and say ‘well done’ without pandering to extremists is beyond me."

Speaking on the violent protests last week, in which protesters dragged around a gallows and a noose and called for premiers to be hanged, the prime minister said he doesn't support protesters using violence, but also expressed his sympathy for Australians who had had a gutful of governments telling them what to do during the pandemic.

On Sunday shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers accused Mr Morrison of "embracing" violent protests seen in Melbourne, which he likened to the "violent politics that have emerged in the US".

He also accused the prime minister of trying to divide Australia for political gain and said his failure to condemn the protests was "a dangerous game with dangerous consequences".

"I condemn without reservation, without qualification, the violent threats being made here, even if the prime minister won't," Dr Chalmers told ABC's Insiders program.

"We live in a society, and that means we have obligations to each other to try to tame this virus, to look out for each other, to protect each other, to try to keep each other safe; and what the prime minister is trying to do is trying to divide us, trying to diminish that collective effort and undermine all of the good and all of the progress that Australians have made together."

Dr Chalmers accused the prime minister of "claiming credit for high vaccination rates without taking responsibility for the measures that are necessary to get those rates up".

"I think what is especially troubling to mainstream Australia is the rest of us see the kind of violent politics that have emerged in the United States in the last couple of years, and we want to reject it, and the prime minister seems to want to embrace those kind of violent views and violent threats."

Queensland politicians threatened over vaccine mandates

It comes as Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath revealed she had received threats due to the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandates.

Ms D'Ath is among the Queensland politicians who have been given a beefed-up security presence after receiving threatening emails.

Member for Keppel Brittany Lauga alerted police on Friday of an email sent to state and federal MPs warning of "terrorism, extremism and violence" over the state government's policy of banning unvaccinated people.

Ms D'Ath said on Sunday she was concerned by the threats but felt safe.

"I do. Nothing is going to stop me doing my job," said Ms D'Ath, who was accompanied by security.

"You have to take it (threats) seriously. It's disappointing that we have to do (increase security) but it is part of the job."

Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath speaks to the media.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D'Ath says she has received threats over her government's COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Source: AAP

Tensions rose again on Saturday at an anti-coronavirus vaccine mandate protest in Brisbane.

When the Brisbane crowd was asked by a protester what they thought of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, someone yelled: "Hang the b****".

Police Minister Mark Ryan said on Sunday there had been an "escalation in the intensity of threat" toward state politicians.

"There are a very small cohort of people I think who are trying to hijack quite legitimate protest activity," said Mr Ryan, adding that protest organisers should monitor behaviour at their events.

"You've also got a responsibility to the broader community to ensure those people who are attempting to hijack your democratic process don't use what you want to do for a lawful purpose, for something which could quite seriously escalate into something very concerning."

Government frontbencher Stuart Robert backed Mr Morrison's stance.

"Governments shouldn't be telling Australians how to live their lives. They had a lot of that by necessity for the last 18 months," Mr Robert told Sky News' Sunday Agenda program.

Victoria reported 1,275 new coronavirus cases on Sunday and a further four deaths.

In NSW there were 176 infections and two deaths, while in the ACT there were 16 cases.

From Monday, visitor restrictions will ease at all ACT hospitals, community health centres and walk-in centres to allow two visitors per patient, per day during visiting hours.

"The decision to restrict visitors to our health facilities is always a difficult one, but it ensures we can protect the health and safety of everyone," ACT Health said in a statement on Sunday.

"This is especially necessary for our most vulnerable, particularly patients whose health is already compromised."

With SBS News

5 min read
Published 21 November 2021 at 2:54pm
Source: AAP, SBS