Q&A host Hamish Macdonald called out Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack in a fiery exchange on Monday night after he claimed Melbourne’s Black Lives Matter rally contributed to the surge in coronavirus cases witnessed in the second wave.
"We've had that outbreak because of the security guards who did the wrong thing, we had that outbreak because of a family who gathered in too large numbers and we had that outbreak in Victoria because of a protest rally,” The National Party leader told the show.
Yet Macdonald was quick to pull him up on the claim, insisting it was “not substantiated”.
The pair began to speak over one another, with Mr McCormack saying there were three cases linked to the protest in June.
“I’m not sure there is any actual evidence that the Black Lives Matter protest led to this outbreak, Macdonald hit back.
He then asks Mr McCormack if he accepts he was wrong, to which he responded: “No, I don’t.”
“I’m sorry, I’m just testing you on a fact. You have put forward that the Black Lives Matter protest in Melbourne led to this outbreak. I do not believe that’s supported by fact,” Macdonald then said.
Mr McCormack pushed on, saying the protests “can’t have helped” and that police were forced to “babysit” protesters that should not have been there.
Australian Medical Association President Dr Omar Khorshid stepped in, and while he agreed the protests should not have taken place, he confirmed there was no link between the second wave and the confirmed cases at the protest.
Shadow Home Affairs Minister Kristina Keneally was far less reserved, accusing Mr McCormack of fabricating the truth.
“I’m gobsmacked by what I heard from the Deputy Prime Minister,” she said.
“Trying to assert that this second wave in Victoria is linked directly to the Black Lives Matter protest. I mean, that is an alternative fact, Trumpism, make up your own reality.”
Macdonald later reiterated the Department of Health and Human Services have confirmed the protests are not linked to the second wave, Mr McCormack eventually admitting he was wrong.
“OK, I’ll accept that, but people should not be protesting,” he said.
Doherty Institute Director Ben Howden told the inquiry into the state's hotel quarantine program last month that 99 per cent of Victoria’s second wave came from three returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
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