Politicians under fire over harsh pandemic health measures

Federal politicians have faced unprecedented anger from the public over a range of issues with the enforcement of draconian health measures a major factor contributing to increased abuse.

Politicians under fire over harsh pandemic health measures
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Reports of abuse and threats directed at federal politicians had increased markedly since the pandemic, figures released by the Australian Federal Police reveal.

The AFP recorded 582 complaints of harassment, abuse and death threats toward MPs in 2022, triple the number received in recent years.

But of the almost 600 reports, only two resulted in charges, while 14 investigations are ongoing.

Liberal Senator James Paterson said the rise in anger toward MPs was driven by frustrations over the imposition of restrictions during the height of the pandemic.

"A lot of these threats happen online and on social media and email,” he said. “A proportion were in relation to public health measures.”

Paterson warned that support for politicians was “critically important” to ensure “this doesn’t turn into a tragedy”.

Nationals leader David Littleproud revealed he was one of the MPs who had received death threats, but in his situation the threats centred around his advocacy for the live export trade.

“I was actually in the Middle East and had a call from the Federal Police to say that someone had put a death threat on me but also my children. They were going to do to my children what apparently I was doing to live sheep," he said.

Neil Fergus, from security advisers Intelligent Risks, said: "The numbers have tripled during the federal election cycle between the last two elections.

"It's a sewer out there if you dive into the extreme ideology and it isn't just extreme right, it's also extreme left."

The reasons for abuse are wide ranging.”

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  • By Avi Yemini

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