Prime Minister Scott Morrison has made a strange reference to protests in Myanmar where people are being “shot at by police” as he praised the response to the March 4 Justice walk today.
In his opening remarks in Question Time, Mr Morrison said it was “right and good” that people were able to congregate in peaceful protests as tens of thousands gathered to demand action against gendered violence in Australia.
“Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker,” he said.
“This is a triumph of democracy when we see these things take place.”
Myanmar in south-east Asia is currently wracked with protests and violent military reprisal following the army’s usurpation of civil authority from the country’s elected government.
So far about 60 people have been killed as the military clamps down on pro-government rallies.
PM says he ‘shares concerns’ of women’s march
“Those who gather here today and around the country do so out of a sense of great frustration and great concern,” Mr Morrison said.
“And Mr Speaker, that’s deserved frustration and concern that I share and I believe the members of this House share.”
Mr Morrison had earlier offered to meet with organisers in private.
“If we were to meet, I would advise them of the following of the matters raised in virtue of the petition,” he said.
“We all agree that all cases of gendered violence should be referred to the authorities.
“Police are the appropriate independent authority.
“As terribly difficult as it must be, going to the police and making a statement is the only way to achieve justice and to ensure the perpetrator can no longer harm anyone else.”
Mr Morrison conceded Australia still has a long way to go to address violence against women.
He outlined the terrible toll gendered violence has taken on women.
“One in four women, Mr Speaker, have experienced intimate partner violence since the age of 15. One woman dies every nine days, Mr Speaker, at the hand of a current and former partner,” he said.
“Indigenous women, Mr Speaker, are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised than non-Indigenous women.”
While praising Australia for its advances over “many, many years”, Mr Morrison admitted there was much further to go.
“Our job is still not yet done,” he said.
His comments were mocked by the Opposition, who jeered during his speech.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese asked Mr Morrison to listen to the thousands of women across the country marching for change.
“The prime minister needs to listen. To listen to what women are saying about what is happening in this building, and outside,” Mr Albanese said during Question Time.
“They said enough is enough.
“And what I saw outside was passionate women who are angry, they are angry about what has happened to them, they are angry about what has happened to their mothers, their grandmothers, their sisters, their daughters and their granddaughters.
“And they’re crying out that this is a moment that requires leadership. And it requires leadership from this prime minister,” he added.