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Australia’s acting prime minister, Michael McCormack, has said “facts can sometimes be contentious” and refused to rebuke a Coalition MP who said making children wear masks was akin to child abuse.
Craig Kelly posted on his Facebook page at 1.40am on Tuesday that the results of a published study into mask-wearing by children during showed the impacts were as bad as child abuse.
“What other conclusion can be drawn from this first ever published study, other than that forcing children to wear masks is causing massive physical & psychological harm – that can only be defined as child abuse,” Kelly wrote.
Australian health authorities generally have made exceptions for young children. For example, under the NSW mask mandate, authorities say children 12 years and under are exempt from wearing face masks “but are encouraged to wear masks where practicable”. Children are 12 are also exempt from Brisbane’s mask mandate.
The research by a German university found a range of impacts had been reported by children, including suffering headaches and being less cheerful, Kelly said.
International health advice has repeatedly found mask wearing to be an effective way of controlling the spread of Covid-19.
In an interview on the ABC, McCormack answered a question about Kelly spreading misinformation by saying: “Facts are sometimes contentious and what you might think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue. That is part of living in a democratic country.”
He repeatedly said he was against censorship, when speaking about the posts and the decision to ban the US president, Donald Trump, from social media platforms.
“Is it right that somebody then decides who gets taken down and who gets left up? Imagine being on that little jury. I wouldn’t want to be on that jury. I don’t think we should have that sort of censorship in our society.
“I am not in favour of censorship. I am a former newspaper editor and journalists know that they have the right to free speech.
“There is 102,000 names on the war memorial in Canberra etched into that bronze who fought so we could have a democratic country, so we could speak freely and it is every free born person’s right to uphold that freedom of speech. I do stick by that.”
McCormack also again compared the insurgency in the US capital last week to last year’s Black Lives Matter protests.
He would not be drawn on whether it was fair to compare a protest against racial inequality and the death of George Floyd to the uprising by Trump supporters seeking to overturn a fair election, saying both involved violence.
“Any form of violence, any form of protest that ends in death and destruction is abhorred,” he said.
“The United States goes through great change but any form of protest, whether it is a protest over racial rights or what we have seen on Capitol Hill in recent days is condemned and abhorred.
“I understand why these protests happen and let’s face it, in Australia we have gone to two world wars so that people can speak freely, so they can have that democratic right of free speech and we have protests here in Australia.”
McCormack is acting prime minister this week while Scott Morrison is on leave. He made similar comments about the rioters on Monday.
The reverberations of last week continue to be felt in the US. Trump is facing the prospect of impeachment for the second time, and authorities in other states fear further violence.
Source: The Guardian
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