Australia’s prime minister on Thursday termed the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests “completely unacceptable” and threatened to bring charges against demonstrators.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the removal of statues of white historical figures showed the movement had been “taken over by much more politically driven left-wing agendas,” News outlets reported.
He was referring to the largely welcomed removal of several statutes of slave traders and other racist historical figures in countries including the UK, Belgium, and the US.
“We’ve got to be honest about our history, we’ve also got to respect our history as well. This is not a license for people to go nuts on this stuff,” said Morrison, who has previously urged Australians to stay away from the demonstrations.
According to the Australian premier, the anti-racism protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by a white US cop have also worsened the COVID-19 crisis.
Accusing protesters of “setting back efforts to lift coronavirus restrictions,” he said, “Certainly, any further action on this front would be absolutely unacceptable.”
“The double standards that [protesters] allowed themselves to perpetrate by turning up has offended, rightly I think, Australians right across the country. The way that it was done and the suggestion that they might do it again risks public support for even the issue they raise.”
The premier said protesters who attend rallies in breach of public health orders should face charges, as authorities confirmed that one person who was at a demonstration in Melbourne last week has tested positive for COVID-19.
“I really do think they should, you can’t have a double standard here,” said Morrison, who has faced backlash for a recent radio interview in which he claimed there was never any slavery in Australia.