The Government has urged people to stay away from rallies this weekend but refused to say whether protesters who flout public health rules will be fined.
The Government has urged people to stay away from rallies this weekend but refused to say whether protesters who flout public health rules will be fined.

‘Lives at risk’: Protesters told to stay away

THE State Government has refused to say if protesters who flout public health rules to attend rallies this weekend will be fined, even as they were urged to stay away.

Last weekend's Black Lives Matter protest, which drew 30,000 people in Brisbane, caused anger among businesses and some politicians.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton accused them of complacency and selfishness, while Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said taking away protesters' JobKeeper payments should be discussed.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison slapped down suggestions that the Federal Government would take a direct hand in stopping any new rallies.

"Enforcement of these matters is for the state and territory governments. And so they will apply their fines and their laws on these issues in those jurisdictions," he said.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy warned people should not attend the crowded rallies, saying their actions "would put lives at risk".

Deputy Premier Steven Miles would not say if he believed people should be fined for going to the rallies.

"It's these directions that have kept people safe and so I would urge every Queenslander to continue to comply with them," he said.

"Any breach of these restrictions does create a risk and so we want to avoid that risk because we want to keep seeing what we have seen so far."

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles would not commit to fining protesters who breach public health restrictions. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles would not commit to fining protesters who breach public health restrictions. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

Mr Miles said different states took different approaches to the protests but "ultimately with the same outcome".

"Victoria said they'd fine protesters. The protest went ahead," he said.

Bowman MP Andrew Laming said people defying public health directives should face fines the equivalent of the coronavirus welfare payments such as JobKeeper or Jobseeker. He said while cutting people off from the payments would not be possible, the judiciary could fine them up to $13,345. Six months of Jobseeker for a single person is about $13,380.

"These warnings not to congregate are clear and unambiguous," Mr Laming said.

"They are now being blatantly ignored, so of course the last resort is the hip pocket."

Originally published as 'Lives at risk': Protesters told to stay away


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