Dan Andrews labels Scott Morrison 'weak' and accuses PM of pandering to extremists over Victorian protests

Daniel Andrews has accused Scott Morrison of pandering to extremists. Picture: Getty Images
Daniel Andrews has accused Scott Morrison of pandering to extremists. Picture: Getty Images

Daniel Andrews has labelled Scott Morrison a "weak leader" and accused the Prime Minister of "double-speaking to extremists" over public threats to kill the Victorian Premier.

But Scott Morrison has rejected allegations of dog whistling, claiming he has been "completely clear" in his condemnation of violence.

After the Prime Minister condemned the threats, but said he understood the frustrations underpinning the rally, Mr Andrews said their relationship would be "a lot better when he stops double-speaking to extremists".

"I'm not about chasing, through double-speak, the votes of extremists or their preferences. I will not do that. If others choose to do that, that is on them," Mr Andrews told Today on Friday.

"I don't want anyone, whether it's people who are weak leaders or extremists, to take away from [what] Victorians have built and sacrificed."

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Mr Morrison on Friday flatly rejected the allegations, claiming he had been "completely clear" in his condemnation of violence. The Prime Minister labelled the presence of gallows "appalling", and said he had "no truck whatsoever" with threatening behaviour.

"I completely, totally, and continue to denunciate any violence, any threat, any intimidation. Any suggestion that I have not done that is completely false," he said.

But pressed on his sympathy for the protesters, Mr Morrison repeated his claim Australians had had "a gutful" of being told what to do.

"You're making an assumption that the frustration that Australians feel is only limited to a small group of people who have engaged in violence, threats, intimidation, and have worked against the vaccination program. I have no sympathy with that agenda," he told reporters.

"But for the broader view of Australians who have done the right thing ... [and want] governments to step back and [let] them step forward in their own future, that's the cause I have sympathy with."

A Facebook post from Mr Morrison on Thursday excluded his condemnation of the threats, including only comments on his unease with lockdowns and vaccine mandates.

"There are many people who are feeling frustrated. Over the last couple of years, governments have been telling Australians what to do," the Prime Minister said in the video.

Mr Andrews said the comments were not an attack on state governments, but on "hard-working people" who had lined up to get vaccinated.

"We have had to do lockdowns, we had to be in people's lives, because there was no vaccine. And who forgot to order the vaccines? It wasn't state governments, it wasn't ordinary Victorians," he said.

"So it's a bit rich to be getting lectures."

ACT Chief Minister Andrews Barr said Mr Morrison had left himself open to accusations of pandering to extremists.

"No level of frustration justifies violent threats against MPs and public officials," he said.

"Politicians from all political parties have experienced violent threats to themselves or their families. It is an ugly stain on public life in this country and it has to be called out."

Victorian police were investigating threats made at the rally, and have charged one man who allegedly encouraged to protesters carry weapons and attack Mr Andrews.

"If it's not peaceful, it's not protest. It's something very different. We have seen extremists, rabid anti-vaxxers and others making all sorts of threats against me, my wife and my kids," Mr Andrews said.

Melbourne has been rocked by violent anti-lockdown protests this year. Picture: Getty Images

Melbourne has been rocked by violent anti-lockdown protests this year. Picture: Getty Images

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese on Friday accused Mr Morrison of failing to unequivocally condemn the threats. He argued the Prime Minister had used far more forceful language during rallies over men's violence against women in March.

"The Prime Minister spoke about March for Justice by standing up in parliament and saying it was lucky they were not met with bullets," he said.

"When people marched on the Victorian Parliament with gallows, threatening people with being hung, he spoke about how he understands people's frustration."

The Victorian demonstrations bore some similarities to the Capitol Hill riot in Washington DC, including the installation of a gallows and threats to assassinate public figures.

Chairman of the powerful Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security James Paterson said unlike the US, anti-government revolutionary sentiment was not infused into Australia's psyche. But he warned there was no room for complacency over the threat of a similar incident on home soil.

It came as the increasingly vicious tenor of public debate has prompted a growing chorus of politicians speaking out over threats to their families.

Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed his children had been threatened "quite openly".

NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner was forced to move his family after their home address was posted online, while WA Premier Mark McGowan revealed a man had arrived at his office in a car loaded with a machine gun.

In October, British MP David Amess was murdered at a meeting of constituents. He was the second British MP murdered in public in five years, after the killing of Jo Cox.

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This story Vic Premier slams PM's 'double speak', says he's pandering to extremists first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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