SA senator slams Australian COVID response on alt-right show

South Australian Liberal senator Alex Antic, in medi-hotel quarantine in Adelaide amid questions about his vaccination status, has appeared on a prominent US far-right figure’s podcast to accuse state governments of a “drift into authoritarianism”.

Dec 08, 2021, updated Dec 08, 2021
Alex Antic on Steve Bannon's "War room: pandemic" show on Tuesday (Photo: Facebook).

Alex Antic on Steve Bannon's "War room: pandemic" show on Tuesday (Photo: Facebook).

Antic, who is completing 14-days quarantine in an Adelaide medi-hotel – a requirement for unvaccinated travellers who arrive from the ACT – fronted Steve Bannon’s “War Room: Pandemic” show on Tuesday to call for Australians to “drain the billabong” and denounce his transferral to a “detention facility”.

“I’ve been put here under order of the unelected health bureaucracy in this state, a health bureaucracy which has now got unrivalled powers to do almost anything it can to almost anyone,” Antic told the show from his hotel room.

“It’s a very worrying time in my country, Steve.”

Bannon, a former chief strategist to US President Donald Trump, is currently facing two charges for criminal contempt of Congress after refusing to produce documents or be interviewed by a US House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots.

The attack saw a mob of Trump supporters infiltrate the US Capitol building attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election, based on false claims from the former president that the election was “stolen”. Five people died in the attack, while at least 138 police officers were injured.

Bannon’s trial is scheduled for July. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Antic told Bannon that Australia needs a “liberty audit” because “every single power that was gifted needs to be returned”.

He said there’s “almost been a drift into authoritarianism in parts of the country”.

“We know what happens when the unelected get hold of power, Steve, and the government gets into your life – they never let go,” Antic said.

“We need to drain the billabong in this country, Steve, it’s as simple as that.”

The video has attracted more than 75,000 views and 1500 comments on Antic’s Facebook page.

Premier Steven Marshall today said he didn’t see Antic’s interview so couldn’t comment, although pushed back against the senator’s criticism of the state’s quarantine requirements.

“What we’ve got to do is abide by the rules that are set, I can’t comment on Senator Antic’s specific situation because they’re known to him and probably to health authorities,” he told reporters today.

“But it would be inappropriate for me to have detailed knowledge, all I can say that is the rules that are set need to be abided by all people that come into our state.”

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said members of the Coalition are “trying to make a name for themselves by undermining public health measures”.

“It’s pathetic at best, dangerous at worst,” she said.

“Most Australians and indeed shortly 90 per cent of South Australians are doing the right thing by their communities, family and friends.

“Politicians should do the same, not work against public health and safety measures.”

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In response to questions from InDaily about his appearance, Antic responded with a laughing emoji and said: “InDaily is fake news.”

It comes after Queensland MP George Christensen appeared on US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars program, where he urged for protests outside Australian embassies due to the country’s pandemic restrictions.

Christensen also laughed when comparisons were made between Australia’s quarantine facilities and the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Following calls from Labor to denounce the comments, Prime Minister Scott Morrison today said George Christensen should go “quietly into retirement”.

“I thought those comments were appalling, and I have spoken to George directly about them,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.

“George is not a candidate for the LNP at the next election, and I think George should quietly go into retirement.”

Hanson-Young said: “If Mr Morrison thinks Mr Christensen should head quietly into retirement, what does he think about Senator Antic who has no plans to go away, let alone quietly?”

Nationals MPs have insisted Christensen’s comments do not represent the views of the party.

However, Victorian MP Darren Chester stopped short of calling for him to be stripped of his party membership.

“I don’t want to wish ill of anyone, but I think his time in parliament has passed, and it won’t be a sad day for me when he’s no longer a member of parliament,” he told the ABC on Wednesday.”

“Each of the state jurisdictions holds their members of parliament to account, so it’s up to the executive of the (Queensland) LNP to hold George to account.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, whose parents are Jewish immigrants, said he had spoken with Christensen following his appearance on the show.

“I rang George yesterday and spoke to him and he did apologise to me, and I reminded him about the importance of our comments,” he told the Seven Network on Wednesday.

“We have a collective responsibility and duty to speak out about these very false analogies.”

-With AAP

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