In what’s clearly going to come as an enormous shock to you all, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared little more than “it’s a free country” when pushed for comment on the extremely small but incredibly stupid anti-lockdown, anti-5G, anti-vaxxer, and just about every other conspiracy under the sun protests that saw several arrests made on the steps of Parliament House in Melbourne yesterday.
Despite a hard-lined approach to protests in the past, Morrison presented an ambivalent, almost cheery front when asked about the conspiracy-laden group that gathered in Melbourne; one that, almost to a tee, followed a script utilised by similar idiotic gatherings in the United States, all of which push a dangerous script of misinformation cultivated largely through right-wing Facebook groups.
Though the gathering was small in number, its sheer audacity has caught the attention of the national spotlight. And today, while fronting media, Morrison was directly asked about it.
“I understand people’s frustration,” Morrison said, addressing the protests that saw ten people arrested, one police officer injured, and dozens brazenly flouting the social distancing regulations in public.
“[People are dealing] with the anxieties and the frustrations that they’re feeling; it’s a free country. People can make their protests and make their voices heard, but equally that needs to be done in an appropriate way and it needs to respect law enforcement authorities who are just simply trying to do their job,” the Prime Minister stated.
— David Marler (@Qldaah) May 11, 2020
That response is a far cry from the one the Prime Minister gave in response to prior protest action surrounding much more serious issues like climate action. In that regard, Morrison went so far as to call protesters “anarchists” while asserting that his Government was working to “identify mechanisms that can successfully outlaw these indulgent and selfish practices.”
In regards to the massive student climate strike protests, Morrison was even more direct, stating in 2018 that “what we want is more learning in schools and less activism in schools,” and in 2019 that students lack “context and perspective” regarding their protest action.
But only now, in May 2020, is he invoking the “free country” defence in regards to violent protest action that, at its core, supports the belief that a hastily reopened economy is job number one; a viewpoint that, coincidentally, a fair amount of key Liberal Party figures and (perhaps more tellingly) financial backers seemingly shares.
Really makes you think.Image: AAP