17 November 2021

SUBJECT/S: Melbourne protests; COVID cases in the NT

ALISON LANGDON, HOST: Well, some ugly, ugly scenes in Melbourne. Protesters parading a makeshift gallows targeting Daniel Andrews while also threatening to storm the state parliament. It brings back memories of this.


[Footage of US Capitol Hill riots]


LANGDON: The Capitol Hill riots in Washington. That was in January, earlier this year where hundreds stormed the building, they did manage to get inside and it was a dark moment in America's history. Let's discuss with Northern Territory Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and in Sydney 2GB's Chris Smith. Malarndirri, when you see the pictures of those nooses and gallows being paraded in the centre of Melbourne, it is so disturbing.


SENATOR MALARNDIRRI MCCARTHY: Good morning, Ally. Yes, it is absolutely disturbing, certainly watching from up here witnessing those scenes. It's not on. It's not the Australia that we want Ally. We certainly don't want to be the United States, especially with what occurred in the in there in Washington, there. So I think what we have to say to to all protesters, we are a democracy by all means protest peacefully. Get your message across the best way you can. But to those politicians who are out there encouraging this in Victoria and urging what I see as an absolute condemnation in the style of protesting that's going on at the moment, stop what you're doing. Remember that you are leaders in Victoria, in the parliament, but don't be the kind of leaders that are just reacting to the crowd and wanting the attention of those simply because you're not getting it in the actual state parliament.


LANGDON: Yeah, that's it. Isn't it? Don't incite violence.


MCCARTHY: Absolutely.


LANGDON: Chris, the problem here is you've got the anti-vax and the extremists taking attention away from the genuine concern that exists about this legislation. And that is basically it gives the premier too much power with no oversight.


CHRIS SMITH, 2GB: It is such a legitimate protest in terms of the point they're trying to make, but the way they're going about it has just destroyed all of that. It's been it's been overtaken by what is clearly unacceptable. Look, these powers are outrageous and worse than that. They are unchallengeable by the parliament at any given time, and this is where they fall down. And this is what people in Victoria are so angry about them. I haven't seen too many politicians encourage the setting up of gallows or violence in particular. I've seen politicians there, you know, legitimately protest against what is a terrible raft of legislation. But I haven't seen too many, Malarndirri, that are standing there encouraging that. These are the usual suspects. These are the Qanon, the anti-vaxxers and also, you know, the Nazi supporters, they're the ones that are bringing this really legitimate protest to its knees.


LANGDON: I mean, Malarndirri, what --


MCCARTHY: Sorry, sorry. I have to pick you up on that one. It does not matter whether those politicians in Victoria are standing next to the gallows. It does not matter. They're sending a message, they're sending a message that this is ok and it's not ok.


SMITH: Well, no, they're sending a message the legislation is not ok.  And and to keep protesting about it, that's legitimate.


MCCARTHY: Yes. But what have they done to demand from Dan Andrews that this is not the way to go? What have they done in terms of the internal? They have the power within the state parliament to do things about it? What have they done?


SMITH: Well, they're arguing in the upper house for a start that that began yesterday afternoon, and they've been on the streets, encouraging protesters. That's, there's nothing wrong with getting out there and doing that. The fact that we've got a set of gallows is not on.


MCCARTHY: It's the gallows is not on.


LANGDON: Everyone agrees with that part, Malarndirri.


MCCARTHY: The vile comments that are coming through to so many politicians, even at a federal level, Ally, this is where you push the extremists to the point where we will see what happened in the UK to politicians here in this country, and it's got to stop.


LANGDON: Well, look, I think everyone agrees with that element of the protest. But what do you actually make of the legislation, Malarndirri, because some of the country's best legal minds have very serious issues with it.


MCCARTHY: Well, this is where there has to be sensible discussion. There has to be meetings with the premier. There has to be discussions. Committee stages there must be lobbying within the parliamentarians within the state parliament. This is a democracy. We've just had Remembrance Day where we remembered the end of the Great War. The people who fought for our country to live in a democratic and free society.


SMITH: Well, Andrews won't meet with any--


MCCARTHY: This kind of behaviour is not the way to do it.


SMITH: No the behaviour is wrong. We both agree with that. But Andrews won't meet with anyone other than those crossbenchers where he can get the legislation over the line.


LANGDON: Malarndirri, how do you feel about this particular point of the legislation, which allows people to be detained indefinitely without charge with no right of appeal to a court? Does that sit comfortably with you?


MCCARTHY: Well, all those elements that are raised by the judges are incredibly important. All those elements that are being raised by the legal areas are important, Ally.


LANGDON: So, you don't support the legislation then as it currently stands?


MCCARTHY: If they want to raise this is a discussion as to the concerns that they have, then they must do that in the most appropriate manner. That's what I'm saying here this morning.


LANGDON: I, I agree with that, I think we're all in the same page, but I'm asking you, the legislation as it currently stands, are you OK with it?


MCCARTHY: Well, I haven't read the full legislation, Ally, and I think it's important to remember that when we talk about protests in this country, let's be really clear about what it is we're doing.


LANGDON: Look, I mean, I think that the issue we've got there is is we all support the democratic right to protest, but there is a way to do it. And when you start threatening people and threatening to take over parliament, it is ugly and we don't want to see that in this country. Look, it's something else I want to talk to you about this morning, too, because there's some really worrying developments in the Northern Territory, Malarndirri. This new COVID outbreak threatening to overwhelm the health system, and I know that your sister was the first person to test positive in the remote Robinson River area. Is she OK? And how concerned are you about this situation?


MCCARTHY: Thanks Ally. Look, our family is incredibly concerned as as we are, you know, in terms of our extended family members who are also in Howard Springs at the moment. This is perhaps our worst fears realised really in terms of First Nations communities, and the fact that it hit so close to the home is is quite a difficult time. We're certainly certainly sending a lot of love in terms of our families who are in there and just asking them to stay strong. But I must commend the Gulf community for the high vaccination rates that we do have. I've travelled about three to four thousand kilometres just driving across the Territory Ally, encouraging people through the Tanami Desert and the western desert region, you know, Lajamanu, Yuendumu, Santa Teresa to try and get vaccinated. And I just urge all Territorians, please get vaccinated.


LANGDON: I mean this, Chris, is what we didn't want to see isn't it, seeing COVID getting to some of these remote communities?


SMITH: Yeah. And I think Malarndirri probably has faced what the Aboriginal communities have also faced, which is a whole series of falsehoods that have been passed on between communities about the dangers associated with vaccination. Of course, vaccination has its danger. Everything we do in terms of medicine and taking medicine has its danger, but it's prevented a lot of people getting vaccinated. Now, thankfully, unlike Dubbo, which saw a terrible outbreak in the Aboriginal communities west of Dubbo, we're seeing a higher vaccination rate in the Northern Territory, which may be enough to subdue this outbreak, and let's keep our fingers crossed that that's the case.


LANGDON: Malarndirri has misinformation been a drama?


MCCARTHY: It has very much so. And I'd have to say, though, you know, we do have to recall that First Nations people were in the high rated priorities for the vaccination, and I despair when I think that that just never occurred and the combination of slow messaging, certainly in languages. I did raise this in February with the Department of Health. It didn't occur immediately. We've got over 100 Aboriginal languages here, and in the meantime, there's been this gap where you've had all this negative messaging coming come in as Chris says through Facebook, social media, and we've just been too slow as a country. The federal government, in terms of the messaging with those languages too slow. So we're really seeing something that we didn't want to see.


LANGDON: Yeah, well, Malarndirri, our thoughts with you, your family and everyone in those communities this morning. We hope that this plays out, OK? Thanks for joining us both this morning. Appreciate it.


SMITH: Thanks, Ally.


MCCARTHY: Thank you.