Then we get this exchange about Michael McCormack’s comments on the Black Lives Matter protests and Victoria’s second wave:
Lisa Millar: Last night on Q+A the deputy prime minister linked the Victorian lockdowns with the second wave. It doesn’t help, that a senior member, is perpetuating that myth.
Greg Hunt: I remember that Brendan Murphy and I warned very clearly … we didn’t support those protests. It is not about supporting the protests. We don’t support protests going on.
Millar: It is not about supporting them. It is about whether it triggered the second wave.
Hunt: None are sensible or thoughtful in terms of public gatherings …
Millar: You are not answering the questions.
Hunt: There are strong, clear ways for people express their views. That is our approach. We know, very importantly that all of these actions in Victoria are being taken to limit public gatherings, minister, last night the deputy prime minister … and … strong steps taken.
Millar: You are not answering the question. Last night the deputy prime minister made a link between the protests and the second wave. That is wrong. And the deputy prime minister said it on Q+A last night. You know, are you not going to offer something rather than divert the question?
Hunt: Well, given that we are dealing with the question of public health consistency, our approach has been consistent. We have not supported any of these protests.
We do believe there are powerful ways to do it, for people to protest, whether it is online or whether it is at their front gates, within the laws and we do think it is absolutely critical that there is a consistent approach from the Victorian government.
Ten thousand people were allowed to gather. I think there were three, maybe more, but three, as best I understand it, fines issued. Two hundred people gathered and there were up to 150 fines. I don’t see the parity in that. I don’t favour either of those.
Wherever people gather together in those large numbers, that was in breach of all of the health advice. So the faster we take the steps to have a consistent approach with the rest of the country, to follow the national cabinet roadmap that was laid down in May, which brought eight out of eight states and territories to a safe place, and in particular, Victoria actually achieved at about the time of the protests, zero cases. And, so, that was a milestone, yet we have come roaring back. The message is very clear – we have a pathway, follow the national cabinet approach and that will help safe lives, protect lives but give people back those freedoms that are at the heart of who we are as a nation.
Millar: Yes, but OK, for clarity for our audience, the protests did not contribute to the second wave. That has come from hotel quarantine.