Australian officials warned Black Lives Matter supporters on Thursday (June 11) that they could be arrested if they breach coronavirus restrictions to take part in public protests, as debate erupted over the country's own indigenous history in Parliament.
[Prime Minister Scott Morrison said:] ''Do not go to those rallies. You are putting others' lives at risks. The issue you raise is important and it is understood and acknowledged I believe by all in this chamber. That is a great reflection on this country."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison drew strong criticism after he said that "there was no slavery in Australia" during a discussion of the early days of British settlement, which he acknowledged was "pretty brutal."
Historians, Aboriginal activists and a number of lawmakers expressed were shocked by the comments.
Sharman Stone, a former federal lawmaker turned politics professor at Monash University said, "Slavery of indigenous, men, women and children is well documented."
Morrison has also rejected growing calls to remove statues of white leaders, including one of the country's first prime minister, Edmund Barton, which is located near an Aboriginal burial site.
Barton played a key role in drafting the national constitution, which negated Aboriginal rights.
Morrison said the initial motives of protesters were "fair," but the push for removal of the statues was being driven by political agendas.