Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack has slammed the decision by social media giants to ban US President Donald Trump as “censorship”, accusing the owners of double standards over China.
Raising the example of the shocking doctored image of an Australian soldier that purports to show the man preparing to slit the throat of a child by an official Chinese government account, Mr McCormack noted that image has not been taken down
“I say to the owners of Twitter, that if you are going to take down the comments of who is still the American President, you need to think also about the photo,” Mr McCormack said.
“The doctored photo, the doctored image, that shows a soldier, supposedly an Australian Digger, with a child in his arms about to do harm to that child.
“Now, that has not been taken down, and that is wrong. If you’re going to take down Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, then think very carefully and closely about also taking down that photo, which should have been taken down weeks ago.”
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison called on Twitter to remove the image months ago but the social media giant didn’t act on his directive.
The Nationals Party leader is in the top job this week as PM Scott Morrison takes a seven-day break to spend time with his family.
Stepping straight into controversy, Mr McCormack hit out at Twitter’s controversial decision to suspend the US President’s social media accounts.
“Well, I don’t believe in that sort of censorship,’’ he told ABC radio.
“But, you know, I mean there’s been a lot of people who’ve said and done a lot of things on Twitter previously that haven’t received that sort of condemnation or, indeed, censorship.
“But, again, I’m not one who believes in that sort of censorship.”
Mr McCormack’s complaints of big tech “censorship” follows concerns raised by Queensland LNP MP George Christensen, Liberal MP Craig Kelly and NSW Liberal MP Dave Sharma.
The deputy prime minister also compared the US violence with the Black Lives Matters protests earlier this year, which he described as “race riots”.
“It is unfortunate that we have seen the events at the Capitol Hill that we’ve seen in recent days, similar to those race riots that we saw around the country last year,’’ he said.
“These are unfortunate events and of course, many people don’t remember how you rode the horse; they remember how you dismount the horse.
“But as far as Donald Trump and his presidency is concerned and the last few days of his administration, well, that’s entirely a matter for the United States of America.”
Asked if President Trump had helped incite the riots with inflammatory remarks on social media and elsewhere he said some of the remarks were “unfortunate” but he said any question over whether he should be impeached was a matter for the US.
“Again, look, it’s unfortunate that comments were made on Twitter. It’s unfortunate that, you know, a decision has been made by the American people hasn’t been accepted by him,” he said.
“But, look, again, I say that’s a matter for the United States. We’ve got a great relationship with the United States; it’s one of our greatest allies and will continue to be under the Joe Biden administration.”
Ultimately, Mr McCormack said the question of whether President Trump can ever return to social media was a matter for the organisations involved.
“Well, that’s a matter for Twitter. They’ve made that call. They’ve got a company, they’ve got a business to run and they’ve made that decision,” he said.
“That’s up to them. And people will use that platform if they feel they need to. Of course, there’s a lot of things said and done on Twitter that wouldn’t be said on other social media platforms. But, again, I’m on all those social media platforms and the criticism you cop on Twitter is probably far in excess that you cop on other social media platforms.
“But, again, we live in a great democracy here in Australia. I’m glad that people are generally and largely, you know, respectful of what we do here in the country in Australia. And I’m glad I live in Australia at the moment. It is the best country on earth as far as COVID is concerned, as far as anything else is concerned. Why would you want to live anywhere else?”
The Prime Minister released a statement today confirming his holidays after controversy just over a year ago regarding his secret holiday in Hawaii as bushfires burned across Australia. He will return to work on January 18.
“During my short absence, the Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will be the Acting Prime Minister and undertake my duties for this period, including regular health and economic briefings, the planned rollout of our vaccine program with the Minister for Health, as well as meeting requests from state and territory governments regarding the National Coordinating Mechanism and support from the ADF,” Mr Morrison said.
“While away I remain in contact with the Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, who will brief me on COVID-19 issues as they occur.”