SUBJECT: Earthquake; Melbourne Protests.
RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Well, after a remarkable year, now we’ve seen it all; Victoria’s had an earthquake. Thankfully, there are no reports of any serious injuries. And indeed, the reports of property damage at this point seem to be minimal although that will continue to be assessed. But it really was a remarkable event, and for those of us who experienced that, it was extraordinary to actually feel the earth move in that way.
On a different note, I want to condemn the actions of the protesters who are again on the streets in Melbourne today. Their actions are the height of indulgence and selfishness. There is no place for violence in Australia’s public debate. And the message of the protesters, to undermine confidence in the Public Health Orders, the Victorian Government, to undermine confidence in the rollout of the vaccine could not be more damaging, and it could not be more wrong. These protesters are not solving any problems. They are simply making matters worse. Now, we’ve made our criticism that the failure of the Morrison government to roll out the vaccine in a timely way in this country has meant that our vaccination rates are nowhere near where they should be, and we should have had much higher rates months ago. But it means that the only game in town now is to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is how we get to the other side of COVID-19.Getting vaccinated is how we open up as a society. Getting vaccinated is how we chart a path back to normality. And all the messages of the protesters stand in complete opposition to that, which is why their actions should be condemned and which is why their actions are so selfish and so indulgent.