Barnaby Joyce has backed a Nationals colleague who attended an anti-lockdown rally and rallied in Melbourne and Sydney.
George Christensen was within his rights to join a legal rally in Queensland and express support for the other marches, according to the deputy prime minister.
Civil disobedience, Mr. Christensen contended, was justified and the only response to laws that limited freedom.
However, there are fears that the federal politician is condoning conduct that could result in more coronavirus infections and prolonged lockdowns.
Mr Joyce stated that while he did not agree with the backbencher’s remarks or actions, he would not condemn them.
On Monday, he told ABC radio, “Let’s be serious about this: everybody has the ability to say whatever they want.”
“What do you expect me to do, walk up there and tackle him without knowing he was going to say it? Would that help the process by reinforcing the feeling that you don’t have the freedom to speak everything you want?”
People, he claimed, were capable of hearing a variety of viewpoints and deciding for themselves which ones they agreed with.
Mr Joyce stated that he believes Australia’s robust suppression policy is important in preserving people’s lives from the coronavirus.
However, he refused to comment on whether it was proper for a member of parliament and the government to publicly oppose the policy.
Mr Joyce responded, “What you’re arguing there is that any member of parliament has the authority to tell George Christensen what to do.”
“Are you suggesting that we imprison him? Then you’re in the same boat as me.”
Mr. Christensen wields considerable power in the Morrison administration.
In the House of Representatives, the coalition has a one-seat majority and cannot afford to alienate any of its members.
In a recent leadership change, Mr Joyce enlisted his help to seize control of the National Party.