Scott Morrison has called on Black Lives Matters protesters in Australia not to “import” the racial tensions in the United States, saying there is no need to draw equivalence between the treatment of African-Americans and people of colour here.
Thousands have marched in Australian cities to protest Aboriginal deaths in custody and wider abuse of indigenous Australians, off the back of the anti-racism riots in the US.
The Prime Minister defended the right for people to protest and said there were issues of racial inequality. But Mr Morrison said that those issues were being dealt with in Australia.
“We shouldn’t be importing the things that are happening overseas to Australia,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio.
“I’m not saying we don’t have issues in this space that we need to deal with. But the thing is, we are dealing with it.
“We don’t need to draw equivalence here. We should be Australians about this.
“What we don’t want is people dividing people. We don’t need the divisions we see in other countries. We need to stick together and look after each other.”
Protests in Sydney and Perth are due to be followed by marches in Melbourne despite the continuing threat of the coronavirus.
Mr Morrison implored protesters to maintain their physical distance and respect the health and wellbeing of other Australians.
“It’s surely not beyond their wit to do this observing social distancing requirements and all the rest of it,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio.
“We’re a free country so the idea that we would stop protests is something that would jar with Australians rightly. But at the same time, people have to exercise responsibility.
“It’s important that everyone respects each other”.