Coalition colleagues have jumped to the defence of Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack after he blamed Black Live Matters protesters for the Victorian outbreak.
The Nationals leader told ABC’s Q&A program on Monday the second coronavirus wave was caused by security guards who did the wrong thing, a family who gathered in too large a number and a protest rally.
Mr McCormack initially refused to back down on the claims, saying “there were people at that rally with COVID-19”, despite state and federal health authorities confirming the second outbreak was linked to a hotel quarantine breach.
But he later said “I will accept that”, adding people should not be protesting.
Nationals Senator Matt Canavan defended Mr McCormack on Sky News on Tuesday, saying there were “unanswered questions” from the Black Lives Matter rally held in July.
“We will probably never know exactly what happened,” he said.
“Multiple cases were detected at that event, and I’m not sure how you could test and trace when you’ve got well over 10,000 people in one spot.
“It was certainly a massive error on behalf of the Victorian Government to passively support that protest.
“They certainly didn’t crack down on it as they have been doing in more recent protests.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt told ABC Breakfast it was critical that the Victorian Government had a consistent approach to protests.
“Our approach has been consistent, we have not supported any of these protests,” Mr Hunt said.
“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.”
But Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally, who was also a guest on the show, condemned Mr McCormack’s comments.
“Trying to assert that this second wave in Victoria is linked directly to the Black Lives Matter protest … is an alternative fact, Trumpism, make up your own reality,” she said.