Greg Hunt says Black Lives Matter protests contributed to Melbourne coronavirus spike

Only four people tested positive to coronavirus after the 6 June Black Lives Matter demonstrations, but Greg Hunt still believes they had a role to play in the recent spike in Melbourne.

Protesters are seen during a Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne on 6 June.

Protesters at the Black Lives Matter rally in Melbourne on 6 June. Source: AAP

Health Minister Greg Hunt has laid some of the blame for Melbourne's COVID-19 spike on the 6 June Black Lives Matter protests, despite only four protesters testing positive. 

Asked at a press conference on Wednesday about government engagement with diverse communities during the pandemic, Mr Hunt took the opportunity to attack the demonstrations.

The 6 June event in Melbourne.
The 6 June event in Melbourne. Source: AAP

While coronavirus had not spread at the rallies, Mr Hunt said they undermined the government's messages to limit gatherings. 

"Particularly since the protests, many Victorians and many Australians have said, 'if it is OK for 10,000 people to congregate and huddle together, surely it would be OK for 10 and my family'," he said.

"The message is, it was never OK for that protest to have gone ahead, not because of the subject matter - noble, powerful, important - but because of the fact that two and a half weeks later, we have had an outbreak in Victoria.

"We know that there are four cases directly linked with that protest, but we also believe that there has been a significant relaxation in parts of the public as a consequence of the double standard."

Minister for Health Greg Hunt.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt. Source: AAP

Victoria has seen a spike in COVID-19 infections in the past week, .

"I don't think the Black Lives Matter protest has contributed. We're not seeing people who've clearly acquired it there," Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said on Monday.

The nation's chief medical officer Brendan Murphy told reporters on Monday the protests had not resulted in community transmission.

"We probably were lucky to have not seen major transmission at any of these events," he said.

However, he did agree that the protests set a "bad example for others and maybe have contributed to people gathering in larger numbers". 

"We don't know that for sure," he told ABC radio on Monday. 

Tens of thousands of people gathered across Australia for the Black Lives Matter rallies earlier this month but there has not been a spike in cases similar to Melbourne in any other city.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at .

3 min read
Published 24 June 2020 at 3:41pm
By Nick Baker