AUSTRALIA’S Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for punishment for all those who participated in the black-lives-matters protests across the country for ignoring coronavirus lockdown rules.
Over the last week, following the killing of a black American George Floyd tens of thousands of Australians joined the protests in their home country to express their disgust at the murder. Across Australia, they held marches, defying an attempt from the police to ban one demonstration through the courts and despite pleas from the prime minister and state leaders for people to stay home.
At least 20,000 attended a Sydney march which passed off peacefully, except for ugly scenes when police officers used pepper spray on protesters who had flowed into Central station after the rally finished. Some protestors were hurt by the spray, with eyes streaming and there were accusations that the remaining crowd had been forced together into a small space in the station and unable to move.
A well known right winger, Mr Morrison has sparked anger when in response to the killing, he claimed that slavery never existed in Australia. He has been criticised for his casual response to the Covid-19 pandemic and his nonchalant attitude towards environmental issues, which has been blamed for recent bush fires in the country.
Earlier today, Mr Morrison courted further controversy when he said the protesters have made a mess of the social-distancing rules and hampered the lifting of a coronavirus shutdown and endangered the economy. Critics believe that the protests, which escalated to different cities of the world, will spike the cases of coronavirus.
In a radio interview Mr Morrison was asked if demonstrators should be charged. He replied: “I think they should. I think people wanting to take this further this weekend are showing great disrespect to their fellow Australians.”
Mr Morrison added that while slave ships continued to travel around the world when Australia was established, there was no slavery in Australia.” His comments are likely to attract condemnation, especially from Australia’s Aborigine community.