‘Disgusting’ Asian markets selling bats are to blame for the coronavirus, according to multicultural affairs minister Jason Wood.
But the former cop’s Facebook post has sparked condemnation from Labor, which has accused him of “fear mongering” when Australia should be trying to unite to fight the virus threat.
The Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs’ Sunday night Facebook post included a link to a story that suggested ‘Asian markets are a ticking time bomb’.
“Apart from being disgusting, Asian wildlife markets will lead to pandemics in the future.
“When will they learn?!,” Mr Wood posted.
Nature magazine reported that the closest match to the human coronavirus has been found in a bat in China’s Yunnan province.
But Chinese scientists have suggested the ant-eating pangolin was the prime suspect.
Whatever the truth, there has been widespread speculation the virus emanated from the local animal markets because many of the first sufferers worked in a live-animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Mr Wood’s post quickly attracted multiple responses.
This is Australia’s Assistant Minister for Multicultural Affairs.
— Andrew Giles MP (@andrewjgiles) March 1, 2020
One of the commenters on the Victorian Liberal MP’s official Facebook post said: “And if you refuse to go to a Chinese doctor you’re a racist”.
Another voter said, “They would grind a rhino horn and eat it if they could. That’s right, they call it medicine”.
Another ‘top fan’ on the MP’s website suggested Australia ban imports from China.
“Karma,” another commentator said, in relation to the coronavirus that has already killed hundreds of people.
“Can’t believe they eat bats,” one comment said.
It’s not the first time Mr Wood has sparked controversy.
Ten years ago he couldn’t pronounce the word organisms and ended up telling Parliament that more needed to be done about “genetically modified orgasms”.
Hinduism is the fastest growing religion in 🇦🇺.
Today @JoshFrydenberg used it as the butt of his political jokes.
That’s disrespectful full stop, and esp when the @ScottMorrisonMP Govt is trying to convince faith groups of the merits of its draft religious discrimination bill. https://t.co/ynIeJXkJCa
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) February 27, 2020
The treasurer made repeated references to Hinduism while mocking Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers’ calls for a ‘wellbeing budget’.
“They (Labor) are inspired by their spiritual leader, the Member for Rankin (opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers),” Mr Frydenberg said.
“I was thinking yesterday, as the Member for Rankin was coming into the chamber fresh from his Ashram deep in the mountains of the Himalayas barefoot in the chamber, robes flowing, incense burning, beads in one hand, wellbeing budget in the other, I thought to myself: ‘What yoga position the Member for Rankin would assume … to deliver the first wellbeing budget?’”
The Hindu Council of Australia has complained the comments are “racist and Hindu-phobic”.
“The comments made by Mr Frydenberg are derisive and very offensive to the Hindu community,” the council said in a statement posted on Facebook.