Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has insisted Melbourne’s Black Lives Matter rally was behind the state’s second wave of coronavirus cases, despite piles of evidence showing otherwise.
Appearing on Q+A last night, McCormack said the June event was a key contributor to Victoria’s second wave.
That claim has been disputed by state health officials, who have long maintained there was no evidence of coronavirus transmission at the event. Epidemiologists say upwards of 90% of cases since May are linked to Victoria’s hotel quarantine scheme.
“We had that outbreak because of the security guards who did the wrong thing, we had that outbreak because of a family who gathered in two large numbers, and we had that outbreak in Victoria because of the protest rally,” McCormack said.
Host Hamish Macdonald quickly pulled McCormack up on his claim, but the Nationals leader stuck to his guns.
“When the second wave occurred, they were the three reasons that were given… That’s what was being said at the time,” McCormack said.
“Do you accept that you were wrong in saying that just now?” Macdonald asked.
“No, I don’t,” the Deputy PM said, before leaning into the argument that folks shouldn’t be protesting at all during the public health crisis.
It’s true that six people who attended the Melbourne rally did test positive for COVID-19 afterwards, but Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services states there’s “no evidence” to suggest they contracted it at the protest.
Mounting evidence suggests that flaws in Victoria’s hotel quarantine system were the biggest contributor to the virus’ resurgence in Victoria, dampening claims that the protest kicked things off.
But, judging by yesterday’s Q+A showing, it appears that ideological bugbear is still kicking around in the highest levels of government.
You can catch the full episode here.