Channel 10 TV personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley is no stranger to causing controversy but her latest on-air comments have incensed some and inflamed debate around environmental and climate protestors.
Extinction Rebellion protestors declared their intention to disrupt major Australian cities as part of a global week-long show of civil disobedience which kicked off this week, causing traffic delays and angering some members of the public.
The intentionally disruptive protests have prompted Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to announce her support to rush a bill through the state parliament allowing authorities to jail climate protestors. The proposed legislation - which would bypass the normal submissions period - could see protesters jailed for up to two years if they use “dangerous devices” such as drums with concrete and locks.
During a segment Wednesday morning on Studio 10 in which panelists were discussing the proposed legislation and whether jail time was warranted for such demonstrators, Ms Kennerley didn’t hold back.
“I would leave them all super glued to wherever they do it,” she said, before going on a tirade against the protestors.
“No emergency services should help them, nobody should do anything, and you just put little witches hats around them, or use them as speed bumps,” she said.
Ms Kennerley sided with the Queensland Premier who said activists were putting themselves and others at risk.
“Put them in jail, forget to feed them ... Put them in some of the aged care homes around Australia, that would really sort them out,” she said.
The Channel 10 host later suggested that protestors should go to authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia, suggesting they could deal with their laws that have little regard for human rights.
“Why don't all you extremist go to China or Saudi Arabia and do it. That's my idea.”
Certain viewers on social media were quick condemn the comments, with some calling for Channel 10 to issue an apology.
“Hey Channel 10 one of your presenters is actively asking for people to be killed,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“I like Studio10 but jeez...” one fan wrote.
“Remind me again how Australia is too politically correct?” another commented.
In response to the criticism, Channel 10 said the comments were made in jest.
“This morning on Studio 10 Kerri-Anne Kennerley made comments regarding climate protesters that were said in jest,” a spokesperson said. “Before the show concluded, Sarah Harris reiterated the tone of her remarks, affirming that Kerri-Anne wasn’t inciting violence.
“Kerri-Anne confirmed that she was indeed speaking in hyperbole and her words were clearly a joke. There was no intent to cause offence.”
The spokesperson added that Studio 10 hosts had expressed “a range of opinions on this subject” in the past few days.
Protestors using ‘booby traps’
Under the proposed new laws, Queensland Police would also get increased powers to search people for such devices.
The Human Rights Law Centre says the government has a legitimate interest in ensuring peaceful protests but that this law goes too far.
"Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has reportedly refused to produce evidence to support her claims that in recent protests, people have deliberately created lock-on devices that could harm police and emergency services attempting to remove them," lawyer Alice Drury said.
"This proposed law could impose harsh prison sentences for their use in very broad circumstances, even if it's just blocking a footpath.
"We are seeing a clear and worrying wave of laws from governments across Australia that restrict people's ability to stand together and speak out on issues they care deeply about."
However, state Police Minister Mark Ryan said there was plenty of anecdotal evidence that protesters were "booby-trapping" devices with wire, metal and glass.
"We've received advice from police that they have found evidence of materials in these devices that could cause harm," he told ABC radio.
"What we're seeing is an escalation in some activities and of course the laws have to be nimble to respond to these escalating tactics."
- with AAP
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.