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Liberals and mainstream media encourage extremism

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Political figures like Scott Morrison and Matthew Guy have been responsible for the rise of right-wing extremism (Image by Dan Jensen)

The mainstream media and Liberal Party through their lies and propaganda have created a breeding ground for violence and extremism, writes Hayden O'Connor.

FORMER DEPUTY Chief Medical Officer turned Liberal Party spokesperson Nick Coatsworth declared this week on Today that those protesting the Andrews Government’s Pandemic Bill are doing so as a result of the Victorian Government’s heavy-handed approaches during COVID-19, highlighting the absence of such protests across the rest of Australia.

The “heavy-handed approach” explanation for the protests put forward by Coatsworth and others is ridiculous. Victoria is not the only state to have had lockdowns or vaccine mandates and the proposed pandemic legislation actually increases transparency and switches the authorisation of public health orders from the Chief Health Officer to the Minister for Health, which is how it currently works in the “gold standard” state of New South Wales.

The opposition to this Bill is based on false information that has been deliberately spread by right-wing opportunists, the media and Victorian Liberal politicians.

These right-wing opportunists have thrived in an environment created by Liberal politicians and the mainstream media. During COVID-19, the Murdoch media and certain politicians have constantly referred to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as a dictator.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his band of Victorian Federal Liberals have repeatedly suggested that Andrews has taken away the freedom of Victorians whilst demanding the Victorian Government end lockdowns against health advice and the mainstream media, along with the Victorian Liberal Party, have undermined COVID-19 restrictions at every opportunity.

The media and Victorian State and Federal Liberals have throughout this entire pandemic played dangerous political games in a morally bankrupt attempt to take down the Andrews Labor Government by weaponising a global pandemic. The media has whipped up hysteria every time the State of Emergency was put to Parliament for extension, even though other states can extend their SOE without a vote in Parliament. Now the media is referring to this Pandemic Bill as controversialand a power grab.

This is how the media dictates the narrative and manipulates public opinion. If the media reported accurately on this legislation and reported on COVID-19 fairly, Victoria would not be in this dangerous situation now and there would not be any protests.

Make no mistake, we are indeed in a very dangerous situation. Disinformation has fabricated a false sense of oppression and sent gullible Victorians down the QAnon rabbit hole to the extent that we have seen politicians and their staffers threatened, public servants (Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton and COVID Response Commander Jeroen Weimar) forced to run to safety and Andrews cancelling a press conference on police advice. In the protests this week, we have also seen the Premier directly threatened with gallows and nooses on the streets outside Parliament House.

These are threats of terrorism and it is only through twisted White privilege and media bias that we are not labelling these QAnon neo-Nazis as terrorists. Thankfully, Victoria Police’s counter-terrorism squad is more alert to the threats than our mainstream media and has begun arresting violent extremists.    

Yet despite all this, as “kill the bill” morphs into “kill Dan Andrews” and Victoria approaches a 6 January-like incident, the Prime Minister, the mainstream media and the Liberal Party have refused to stand up and condemn the neo-Nazis and death threats. The ABC declared that the protests have been peaceful, which is an outright dangerous lie and a cowardly lie given that the article does not list an author.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for the Black Lives Matter protesters to be charged, he reminded women protesting at March 4 Justice that in other countries protesters are met with bullets and he told student climate protesters to go back to school. Morrison has also had a crack at anonymous users on social media, but for those threatening to kill Daniel Andrews, what does Scott Morrison have? Nothing. No reminders of the dangers of meeting bullets in other countries and no suggestions that protesters should be charged. Once again, Morrison’s links to QAnon should be further investigated and questioned.

In all truth, Scott Morrison has provided more criticism of panic buying during the pandemic than he has of those threatening to kill elected officials and public servants. This is not leadership and Scott Morrison is not a leader. By failing to condemn these terrorists, Morrison has once again proven that he should not be Prime Minister.

Josh Frydenberg has done a little better than Morrison by quite rightly criticising the uneducated comparison that protests have made between Andrews and Hitler but stopped short of condemning the death threats. Despite this, Frydenberg’s constant attacks on Victoria during COVID-19 have only contributed to the fuelling of these protests.

Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy and his “team” have outdone Morrison, instead of refusing to condemn the death threats, some of the Victorian Liberals are joining in the protests and deliberately spreading disinformation. Liberal MP Craig Ondarchie joined in the protests and shared selective photos of the “event” on his Twitter, MP Bernie Finn directly compared Daniel Andrews to Hitler whilst lying about the powers of the Bill and Shadow Treasurer David Davis directly addressed the protesters as a preplanned speaker. That’s three members of Parliament who have attended these terrorism gatherings.

In response to the actions of his Party members, Matthew Guy has done absolutely nothing, refusing to criticise Ondarchie and Davis for encouraging and participating in protests where death threats are made against the Premier. This brand of pathetic leadership is to be expected from Guy — after all, he has previously stated that public health orders should be made by elected officials but now he is opposing legislation that does exactly that.

It’s all about politics for the Liberals. They have no concern for the health of Victorians and if they did, they would pass this Bill and they wouldn’t have a health spokesperson in Georgie Crozier who spreads misinformation on mammogram testing and pretends that public health briefings aren’t provided to Parliament.

Given that the Liberals and mainstream media aren’t condemning the actions of these death threat-making protesters, they are ultimately supporting it. Their end goal here is to destroy the Andrews Government even if it involves cuddling up to anti-vaxxers, neo-Nazis and terrorists to do so.

Despite all the disinformation, protests and disgusting political games, Daniel Andrews’ popularity remains strong, much to the disappointment of his opponents. However, the spreading of disinformation, political propaganda and fuelling of terrorism must stop — before a public servant or politician is killed.

Hayden O’Connor is an I.T. professional from Tasmania who currently lives in Melbourne. You can follow Hayden on Twitter @HaydenJOConnor.

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