Acting PM stands by US siege comments

Michael McCormack has blasted social media giants for kicking Donald Trump off their platforms.
Michael McCormack has blasted social media giants for kicking Donald Trump off their platforms.

Australia's acting prime minister has doubled down on comparing the assault on the US Capitol with Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice.

Michael McCormack insists there are similarities and there is no need to withdraw his comments.

"It involves violence, it involves destruction of property, it involves deaths of people, and any violence of that form is condemned," Mr McCormack told the ABC on Tuesday.

He has received heavy criticism from human rights groups including Amnesty International, who described his comparison as deeply offensive and called on him to withdraw.

Mr McCormack accused Amnesty of "feigned indignation".

"If I've affected their precious feelings, well I'm sorry that they are so visibly upset by it, but seriously?" he told Sydney radio 2GB.

"I'm concentrating on rebuilding the economy and the health outcomes of Australians, not worrying about what is a bit of a circus in America."

Attempting again to draw comparisons between the deadly storming of the Capitol to last year's Black Lives Matter protests, Mr McCormack said all acts of violence were to be deplored.

"If Amnesty International can't cop that, well too bad."

He has also been criticised for refusing to censure government MPs including George Christensen for spreading misinformation about last week's siege on the Capitol by pro-Trump supporters.

Mr Christensen has also been pushing conspiracy theories and unproven treatments throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

"George Christensen is a free spirit," Mr McCormack told the Nine Network.

"While George might sometimes push the boundaries of controversy on social media, he also sticks very much up for communities."

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten urged senior government ministers to pull rogue backbenchers into line.

"Our own leaders need to stamp down on the conspiracy rubbish - not everything on the internet is true," Mr Shorten told Nine.

The US siege has prompted a wider discussion about freedom of speech after Facebook and Twitter took down Donald Trump's accounts over fears his words were inciting violence.

Mr McCormack said he did not believe censorship should be used by social media companies, arguing facts could sometimes be contentious and everyone should have the right to say what they believed was true.

Australian Associated Press