Media Statement: The Council cautions politicians against using language that seeks to divide

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) strongly condemns the recent remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, linking a pro-Palestine protest to the tragic events of the Port Arthur massacre. Such statements not only lack factual basis but also dangerously conflate unrelated issues, leading to misinformation and unwarranted associations.

Comments from Lydia Shelly, President NSW Council for Civil Liberties

The Port Arthur massacre stands as one of Australia's darkest moments, and any attempt to exploit its memory for political gain or to deflect from critical discussions is deeply concerning. Mr. Dutton's comments are not only insensitive to the victims and survivors of the Port Arthur tragedy, but also disrespectful to the broader Australian public.

It is essential to distinguish between legitimate expressions of political dissent, such as protests advocating for a ceasefire in Palestine, and heinous acts of violence like the Port Arthur massacre. Drawing parallels or suggesting connections where none exist not only undermines public confidence in our civil institutions, but also risks inciting division within our communities.

The NSWCCL reaffirms its commitment to upholding civil liberties, including the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. We call on all political leaders to engage in responsible rhetoric that fosters understanding and constructive dialogue rather than inflaming tensions and promoting baseless accusations.

Parliamentarians must resist the urge to exploit the senseless loss of human life for their own political purposes. The Leader of the Opposition’s disgraceful comments tarnish the position he holds and the party he represents.

As an organisation dedicated to defending civil liberties and promoting a just society, the NSWCCL remains vigilant against any attempts to undermine these fundamental principles.

We urge Mr. Dutton and all political leaders to refrain from furthering divisive narratives and to focus on addressing pressing issues with integrity and respect for democratic values.

Those advocating against the democratic right for the Australian public to peacefully protest are revealing themselves to be standing against the rights enshrined in our Constitution and against the direct interests of the Australian public.