While the prime minister condemned the protests against Victoria’s pandemic laws, he reiterated comments that people have had enough of government-imposed COVID-19 measures.
“I completely and totally continue to denounce any violence, any threat, any intimidation – and any suggestion that I have not done that is completely false,” Morrison told reporters on Friday.
“I don’t have sympathy for violence. I don’t have sympathy for intimidation or threats whatsoever.
“I have sympathies for Australians who have had a gutful of governments telling them what to do over the last two years.”
He was speaking before news broke that the daughter of a key Victorian crossbench MP had been attacked for what the MP says was his support for the pandemic laws being debated in parliament.
Animal Justice MP Andy Meddick said in a statement on Twitter that his adult daughter Kielan was attacked on the street on Thursday night and has been hospitalised.
“I have reason to believe this could be linked to my role as an MP and the positions I have taken on the pandemic response,” he said.
Mr Meddick said he has been “desperately worried” about “comments, threats and intimidation” that have been made against his family, staff and colleagues since he announced his support for the government’s pandemic bill.
Morrison later condemned the attack on Meddick’s daughter, saying it was “not just an attack on an innocent person but an attack on our very democracy”.
The prime minister’s previous comments had drawn criticism from Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who accused the prime minister of “double speaking to extremists”.
Demonstrators have attracted widespread criticism for their actions during the protests, including bringing gallows and nooses out the front of parliament.
The proportion of Australians worried about being infected is at its highest point since the start of the pandemic.
An Australian National University survey of nearly 3500 adults found 40 per cent thought they would likely contract the virus in the next six months.
In April this year, just over 10 per cent of people were worried they would become infected.
While the majority thought the worst of the pandemic was behind them, 45 per cent believed the worst was yet to come.
People were also increasingly experiencing severe psychological distress, with the rate jumping from 10.6 to 12.5 per cent between April 2020 and October this year.
Meddick’s daughter posted on Instagram that she had been chased down and attacked by a man for being “political” on Smith Street in inner-suburban Fitzroy.
“I called for help and he threw a spray can at my head. I started bleeding a lot,” she said.
Ms Meddick ran into a bar, where the staff treated her wounds before she was taken to hospital.
She said she has a three-centimetre gash on her head, which required stitches and glue.
“I’m home safe now, thank you so much for all the support,” she said.
While Morrison said he denounced the protesters, he said frustration at pandemic laws and vaccine mandates was bigger than the demonstrations in Melbourne.
“You’re making an assumption that the frustration that Australians feel is only limited to a small group of people who have engaged in violence and threats,” he said.
“The broader view of Australians who have done the right thing and got vaccinated … (is that they) want their lives back and want governments to stop telling them what to do.”
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese urged the prime minister to unequivocally condemn the violent protests.
Albanese also hit out at Morrison’s comments urging an end to state-based vaccine mandates.
“The PM wants to claim credit at times for vaccination rates, but oppose all the measures that have been in place to lift those vaccination rates,” he told reporters.
“The prime minister of course failed to secure enough supply of vaccines, and then has gone about engaging in the word games he played yesterday.”
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles accused the coalition of picking a fight with Labor states.
“This undermines the vaccine rollout that is going on in WA and Queensland,” he said.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said Labor premiers were co-ordinating to pick “phoney fights” with the government.
“We’ve got to be really careful in terms of the approach that’s taken to maintain maximum confidence in Australians to actually get vaccinated,” he told Sky News.
“And that’s not by exacerbating political fights, it’s not by exacerbating partisan differences.”
Nationally, about 84 per cent of the 16-plus population is double-dosed and 91 per cent are partially protected.
Victoria has lifted almost all restrictions for the fully vaccinated as the state verges on a 90 per cent double-dose rate for people aged 12 and older.
It reported 1273 new cases and eight more deaths on Friday. NSW recorded 216 new infections and three additional deaths.
There were 17 more cases reported in the ACT on Friday .
Northern Territory officials confirmed a woman who illegally entered the Top End last month sparked an outbreak infecting 19 Indigenous people so far.Jump to next article