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MPs, police worried about rising threats

MP threats
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews says steps are being taken to ensure the safety of politicians. Photo: AAP
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Threats against politicians have alarmed federal authorities amid violent protests over COVID-19 jab mandates and Scott Morrison urging state governments to get out of people’s lives.

The Australian Federal Police had to intervene over the weekend because of “specific threats against different members of parliament”.

Commissioner Reece Kershaw declined to name the politicians or go into the nature of the threats amid unrest from fringe groups opposed to state vaccine and pandemic rules.

“We know that the environment has changed rapidly due to a number of factors,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“We will be making sure we do as much as we can to keep our parliamentarians safe.”

The prime minister has been accused of egging on protesters by telling states to drop restrictions for unvaccinated people.

“The national (pandemic) plan was not about entrenching government in people’s lives. It was about getting government out of people’s lives,” Mr Morrison said.

Victorian government legislation to enforce future pandemic powers fed angry protests in Melbourne where demonstrators brought gallows and chanted they wanted to “kill” Premier Daniel Andrews.

So-called “freedom” protesters also gathered in various major cities over the weekend, while Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath confirmed she had received threats.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews condemned violence during the rallies as “absolutely unacceptable”.

“We are very aware that there are people in Australia who wish to do parliamentarians harm, whether that be at the federal level or at the state level, or in some cases in local government,” she said.

“There will be continuing work in relation to making sure MPs are safe as they go about their work.”

A review of security arrangements for federal politicians was already underway following the murder of UK politician David Amess in October.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese expressed concern ministers had to bring security with them for press conferences.

“You’ve got to call out this behaviour for what it is,” he told ABC radio.

“I am more concerned about security issues than I have been in the past.”

– AAP