Australia’s Deputy PM Defends MP’s Right to Attend Legal Anti-Lockdown Demonstrations

By Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
July 26, 2021 Updated: July 26, 2021

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has defended the right of National Party colleague George Christensen MP to protest as part of the July 24 “freedom rallies” held around Australia.

The protests, which saw thousands of Australians march through a number of capital cities, were a reaction to several state governments’ COVID-19 lockdowns.

In an interview on ABC Radio on July 26, Joyce said that Christensen was within his rights to attend a legal rally in Queensland and voice his support for the other demonstrations around the country.

He said that while he disagreed with Christensen’s sentiments, he did not believe silencing people was the answer, and it would not assist in anything.

“Let’s be realist about this—everybody has the liberty to say what they want,” he said.

“What do you want me to do, to go up there without knowing he was going to say it, to tackle him? Would that actually assist the process by reinforcing the sense you don’t have the liberty to say what you like?”

George Christensen
George Christensen in Canberra, Australia, on Feb. 26, 2018. (Michael Masters/Getty Images)

Joyce also noted that Australians are free to make up their own minds.

“We are all intelligent sentient beings,” he said. “It’s up to you whether you agree with it or not, and you can listen to other opinions.”

Joyce also noted he personally believed that if a country didn’t go down the path of suppressing the virus, it could end up in a situation like Indonesia. But he personally believes that Australia needs to come to terms with the fact that it will have to live with and manage the virus, as we do other viruses.

“It is a very bitter pill, but you must be honest with people; it’s like saying, we’re going to get rid of the flu. You’re not,” he said. “You have got to manage it, and it’s like saying you’re going to get rid of anybody ever getting measles; you’re not going to manage it to the best of your ability.”

The comments from Joyce came after Christensen wrote in a post on Facebook: “Civil disobedience eventually becomes the only response to laws that restrict freedom. This is what we’ve seen in Melbourne today.”

Accompany the comment was an image citing a line from American civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, which read, “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

Epoch Times Photo
Australian protestors march during the ‘World Wide Rally For Freedom’ anti-lockdown rally in Sydney, Australia on July 24, 2021. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Christensen was referencing the thousands of protestors who broke health orders in Victoria to march against the restrictive COVID-19 lockdowns implemented by the state government led by Premier Daniel Andrews.

Victoria has experienced one of the longest and harshest COVID-19 lockdowns globally, spending nearly five months in full lockdown in 2020, and is currently wearing its fifth lockdown.

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, also saw thousands of people come out to protest their state’s month-long lockdown that is ongoing after an outbreak of the Delta variant has seen authorities restrict movement and business in the Greater Sydney area, with regional areas placed under less restrictive orders.