ETU condemns Chief Minister’s attack on Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) condemns the comments Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner made towards Labor Senator Malarndirri McCarthy.

The Chief Minister has launched an attack on the Senator, saying that he ‘will call her an anti-vaxxer,’ after she expressed concern about vaccine mandates. Senator McCarthy says she is ‘cautious about making people do anything if they’re certainly unable to do so medically.’

She added that the government should be focussing instead on improving COVID information in languages other than English, and has put out a statement calling for the Morrison government to ‘plug the huge gaps in the communication strategy’ for First Nations People.

ETU State Secretary Peter Ong says that Michael Gunner should be aiming criticism towards the federal government, not his own party. “The Chief Minister needs to point fingers at the Morrison government for the botched vaccine rollout. That’s where these problems have all arisen.

“The federal government has been quick to try deflecting blame onto the states and territories, but it all goes back to the Prime Minister not securing enough vaccines for Australians. I’m disgusted that this is not the message Minister Gunner is focussing on.

“Attacking a Senator in your own party and threatening to brand her with the politically-charged title of ‘anti-vaxxer,’ is not being a leader. Territorians deserve better than that. Senator McCarthy is a strong advocate for the Territory, for workers and for First Nations people – she’s a strong leader.”

With volatile political divisions in Australia that have only been made more stark by COVID, lockdowns, and attitudes towards vaccines, the Territory leader should be criticising the federal government for their failures in securing vaccines, implementing a successful rollout, and offering financial assistance for people out of work.

“If Scott Morrison had secured enough vaccines when he first had the opportunity, we would be in a very different place. We should have had the opportunity to get vaccinated while hotspot areas were locked down months ago, when JobKeeper was in operation. If that had happened, we’d already have a significant portion of the population vaccinated, and we’d be in a much better spot as a country.

“There’s no need for blanket vaccine mandates. Most people are or have been keen to get the jab. Almost 10 million Australians are fully vaccinated already, and even more have had one dose. We can get to the 80% vaccinated targets without mandates, and respect the people who have genuine concerns about the vaccine.

“I’m personally disgusted by the comments from Michael Gunner,” says Mr Ong. “The Territory has been tracking well with COVID numbers, and now the Chief Minister has rapidly switched gears and is suddenly on the negative. He needs to get his priorities straight, hold the federal government to account for their significant failings, and lead the Territory out of the pandemic with integrity.”


For more information, please call Peter Ong on 0419 721 046 or Kristin Perissinotto on 0448 633 858.