Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Questions without Notice
Member for Dawson
My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Birmingham. On Monday I asked the minister about a photo posted by LNP MP George Christensen of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on his Telegram account inciting violent comments threatening Premier Andrews' life. These posts were drawn to the attention of the AFP. The minister took my question on notice. I asked again yesterday, but the minister still did not have an answer. Can he today advise what action Mr Morrison has taken in response to Mr Christensen's online activity?
I can certainly confirm to the Senate that the Prime Minister has discussed online activity and the need for responsibility in online activity with the member for Dawson. As it is well known, the Prime Minister has indeed, in national and public comments, urged all Australians to show responsibility in relation to their engagement online. As I understand it the types of comments that Senator Keneally refers to were posted by others in response to the member for Dawson's posts. As we all know, sadly, in maintaining social media accounts, with avenues for people to make a comment, there are times in which people make comments that they should not make. If those comments have been referred to the AFP then it is rightly a matter for the AFP to conclude the investigations that they are undertaking—if they are doing so in relation to any such comments.
First, I seek leave to table the post from the member for Dawson.
Thank you. On Monday the minister said he was unaware that Mr Christensen had posted a video of Catherine King MP which incited threatening comments directed at Ms King, and that post was drawn to the attention of the AFP. I asked again yesterday, but the minister still did not have an answer. Can the minister advise whether Mr Morrison has taken any action in relation to Mr Christensen in relation to these threats against Ms King?
I would draw the senator's attention to the answer I just gave. That answer covers the posts in question, the discussions that have been had and the actions that are, rightly, in the domain of the AFP.
Again, I seek leave to table documents relating to the issue regarding Ms King—the posts by the member for Dawson.
Given that the commissioner of the Australian Federal Police revealed on Monday that he has been investigating various threats against parliamentarians and given that yesterday WA Premier Mark McGowan disclosed that threats to behead him and his family were recently made, why has it taken this minister two days to answer questions on this serious issue?
It is completely unacceptable and worthy of condemnation when threats are made against any Australian, including, of course, those of us who serve in public office and are in public life. Far too many of us have seen such threats of violent action and have had to engage with those who work so hard to help to protect us as they protect the nation through our different law enforcement agencies. I place on record my thanks and, I know, the thanks of all senators who have had to engage with the AFP, with Home Affairs or with any other agencies in relation to protection on such matters. In relation to the issues that Senator Keneally raises, as you indicated, the AFP may be looking into certain matters there. They're the right authority to do so. (Time expired)