Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton is facing criticism over comments that climate protesters activists should be given mandatory sentences and should lose their welfare payments.
Speaking on 2GB, Dutton told radio host Ray Hadley that climate protesters that disrupted traffic should have their “names and the photos of these people and distribute them as far and wide as they can so that we shame these people”.
Dutton also said that mandatory sentences should be placed on people whose demonstrations break the law.
“There needs to be mandatory or minimum sentences imposed,” he told 2GB.
“A community expectation is that these people are heavily fined or jailed.”
He also agreed with Hadley’s suggestions that protesters who “ask Mummy and Daddy for cash” and should not receive welfare from the government.
However, he wasn’t the only minister to feel that way: Employment Minister Michaelia Cash later followed up on Dutton’s comments.
“Taxpayers should not be expected to subsidise the protests of others. Protesting is not, and never will be, an exemption from a welfare recipient’s mutual obligation to look for a job,” Cash told The Australian.
“Those who refuse to look for a job because they are too busy protesting may find they have their payments suspended.”
Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said that Dutton was taking an “extreme and populist view”.
“Mandatory sentencing, more often than not, straight-jackets the courts,” Potts said.
“There is a complete difference between occupying an intersection for 10 minutes opposed to chaining yourself to a 44-gallon drum full of concrete and holding up a coal train for five hours.”
The Greens were among a cacophony of voices that slammed the comments as undemocratic and outrageous.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale told ABC people should be free to choose what to do with their free time.
Twitter rips in on Dutton
Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters said in a tweet: “It is entirely inappropriate for Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton or anyone in government to threaten people with the withdrawal of income support in an attempt to silence their views.”
Meanwhile, Dutton’s comments left WA senator Jordon Steele-John speechless.
— Senator Jordon Steele-John (@Jordonsteele) October 3, 2019
On Twitter, Melbourne-based small business owner Aaron Dodd said those who sought to curtail the right to freedom of speech was indicative of weakness.
“Are you weak Peter?” he tweeted.
Dear @PeterDutton_MP, in a Western democracy ALL citizens have the right to vote and freedom of speech regardless of income status. Those who seek to curtail those rights demonstrate weakness as they cannot sustain their own position without force. Are you weak Peter? #auspol
— 💧Aaron Dodd (@AaronDodd) October 3, 2019
Meanwhile, other Twitter users suggested it was hypocritical of Dutton to call for penalties for putting people’s lives at risk.
Peter Dutton has called for climate change protesters to be “named and shamed” and jailed for “putting lives at risk"....Hello?????? These twelve men died under his 'care'. What's the penalty for that??#Manus #Nauru #Bomana53 pic.twitter.com/QkegKBeylO
— Amanda Perram (@AmandaPerram) October 4, 2019
However, some were not surprised by Dutton’s comments.
“I'm surprised he didn't suggest shooting them,” said Twitter user @AstraKate.
Another tweeted: “Is Dutton crazy? WTF?”
“This can't go on, we are becoming a police state, FFS!” said @KoparaFallsKid.
ACOSS and refugee activist Shane Bazzi framed Dutton’s comments as a distraction and another attack on Newstart.
— ACOSS (@ACOSS) October 3, 2019
ffs. This is outrageous. Yet another example of the government trying to silence the views of those who disagree with them/embarrass them. This from the supposed "champions of free speech." Yet another attack on people on Newstart. Vile distraction. https://t.co/SXX2Airt28
— Shane Bazzi (@shanebazzi) October 3, 2019
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