Scott Morrison criticises ‘crazy’ COVID-19 conspiracy theories, George Christensen defends comments on restrictions

By: Jade Macmillan

The Prime Minister criticised what he described as “crazy, rubbish” conspiracy theories about COVID-19 a day after the views of one of his backbenchers were formally condemned by Parliament.

The House of Representatives took the unusual step of condemning comments made by Queensland MP George Christensen on Tuesday, after he used a speech to argue masks and lockdowns do not work.

Asked in Question Time about QAnon conspiracy theories being spread online, Scott Morrison said no form of misinformation would be tolerated.

“Crazy, rubbish conspiracies have no place when it comes to the public health of this country and this government will have no association with it as we demonstrated yesterday in this House,” he said.

“Ensuring that we take all steps we can to deal with misinformation is what this government is doing.

“And it is up to all of us as members to seek to do everything we can to ensure that we are countering that in our own communities.”

A video of Mr Christensen’s speech was removed from his Facebook page by the social media giant, which argued it breached its misinformation policies.

“We don’t allow anyone, including elected officials or public figures, to share misinformation about COVID-19 that could lead to imminent physical harm or misinformation that could lead to COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy,” Facebook said in a statement.

Mr Christensen has since posted a “censored” version of the video, in which the audio of his comments about masks has been removed.

He told Nine Radio that he did not regret making the speech.

“I now know what it’s like to be slapped with a wet lettuce leaf,” he said.

“My email has been flooded with people from all over the country since I made those comments congratulating me and saying it’s about time that some politician actually just said it as it is.”

‘He can say what he likes,’ says Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce

Mr Christensen will not not be re-contesting his seat of Dawson at the next election but Labor argues he should be kicked out of the Coalition before then.

“If Scott Morrison can’t pull George Christensen into line, he needs to push him onto the crossbench,” Shadow Health Minister Mark Butler said.

“We can’t have this disinformation coming from a member of the national government.”

Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said he had spoken to Mr Christensen but could not stop him from expressing his views.

“What you’re asking is to say, ‘Barnaby, go out there and muzzle George Christensen’. Well, first of all, I’m not allowed to, I’m in lockdown,” he said.

“And tell him never to speak again? Well, he’s a free individual, he can say what he likes.”

Nationals MP David Gillespie, who is the Minister for Regional Health and a doctor, said he had told Mr Christensen that masks were effective.

But Mr Gillespie argued the formal condemnation of the Parliament was an adequate response to the speech.

“He’s faced the consequences,” he said.

“Inside this building, for people that understand parliamentary processes, that is an exceptional rebuke.”

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