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The Australian Prime Minister has been praised worldwide for his countries response to coronavirus, seeing an admirably low number of cases and deaths due to early intervention. But after the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25, protests have been seen worldwide.
Prime Minister Morrison has revealed that each state’s police departments have made their decisions to allow Black Lives Matter and Indigenous Lives Matter protests.
But he pleaded with Australians that “it’s not a good idea to go”.
Morrison also said that he had asked the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee to consider the matter of public health and protests.
He also said that his message was based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
In a press conference in Canberra, Mr Morrison said that a mass gathering shouldn’t occur out of respect for the sacrifices made by those in lockdown, even though he respects the cause and the right of people to protest.
He said: “We all found a way on Anzac Day to thank those who gave us our liberty and not gather in large numbers.
“And we stood on the end of our driveways and we held up a light on that dawn in our windows or our balconies and we found a way to celebrate those who gave us our liberty.
“Let’s not misuse that liberty.
“Let’s respect it.
“Let’s respect other Australians.
“And let’s thank those who had the absolute agony of not being able to say goodbye to a loved one, by showing responsibility this weekend.”
Regional leaders in Australia have also voiced their objections to the protests.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has told protesters in his state to stay at home to protect public health.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said: “You can’t go to the footy.
“Why on earth should 10,000 people be allowed to make merry at the Town Hall steps?”
But Queensland leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has remained silent on the matter, and New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is under fire after giving protesters the green light to demonstrate despite concerns of a second wave of coronavirus.
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On Friday morning, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the country’s successful battle against the virus could be undone by protesters.
He said: “There is a risk that all of the gains that we have made are put at risk by people gathering in large numbers.”
Ms Berejiklian added: “We’re probably doing better than we anticipated at this stage of the pandemic, however, we have to be cautious, we have to be vigilant, we have to be safe to make sure that even the mildest symptom means we get tested.”
Under restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, up to 20 people can attend weddings and up to 50 can go to funerals, places of worship, restaurants, pubs and cafes.
Householders are allowed up to five visitors and outdoor gatherings are restricted to 10 people.
Mr Morrison previously has warned against “importing the things that are happening overseas to Australia”, acknowledging during a radio interview on Thursday that Australia also had problems “in this space” that it needed to address.
But he said: “We don’t need the divisions that we’re seeing in other countries – we need to stick together and look after each other.”
He also pointed out that COVID-19 disproportionately affects aboriginal people, and that they are at the most risk from the protests should they be allowed to go ahead.
Protesters in Sydney on Thursday chanted “I can’t breathe” and “Justice today, for David Dungay” – the 26-year-old Aboriginal man who said “I can’t breathe” 12 times before he died in 2015 while being restrained by five prison guards.
Dungay is one of at least 432 Aboriginal deaths in custody since the royal commission in 1991.
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