Prime Minister criticizes ‘misinformation spread online’ about NT COVID-19 outbreak

Northern Territory Chief Michael Gunner has used a COVID-19 update press conference to condemn misinformation spread by anti-waxers and overseas conspiracy theorists that, he says, could damage native territories.

At the press conference, Mr Gunner announced a new case in the outbreak and the lifting of the hard lockdown for one of the communities that had been considered the most vulnerable earlier in the week.

Sir. Gunner also called it one “positive day“in the current outbreak, which has predominantly affected Aboriginal territories.

However, he highlighted what he called a “huge amount of misinformation being spread online in the last few days”.

“I do not really want to lean into the lies that are being spread,” he said.

NT Prime Minister Michael Gunner speaks to the media.  His expression is serious.
Prime Minister Michael Gunner launched his speech during a press conference this morning.(ABC News: Che Chorley)

A press conference that became a passionate achievement

For a while now, Mr. Gunner has taken bigger and more colorful strokes against people – including a U.S. senator – who do not support his government’s broad vaccine mandate or against anti-waxers more generally.

Today, Mr Gunner aimed at “crazy, unrelated things that are spreading online”, as he said “overwhelmingly come from people who do not live here and know nothing about us”.

He said that “99.9 per cent of the ‘BS’ flying around the internet about the territory come from whips outside the territory – mostly America, Canada and the UK”.

“People who have nothing better than to really come up with lies about us because their own lives are so small and so sad,” he added.

Sir. Gunner said malicious conspiracy theorists spreading rumors online would not distract from his efforts “to protect the oldest continuous living culture on the planet”.

“We do not need to pay more attention to them. We do not need to listen to them,” he said.

“We have tens of thousands of years of history, knowledge, customs and song to keep alive

“And if anyone thinks we’ll be distracted or intimidated by tinfoil-wearing lunatics sitting in their parents’ basements in Florida, then you do not know us Territories.”

Rumors spread about the Army’s involvement in remote communities

Sir. Gunner identified specific cases of misinformation in his speech.

However, he highlighted “ridiculous, untrue rumors about the involvement of the Australian Defense Forces” during the current outbreak.

“As we all know, they do not carry weapons. They carry fresh food for people,” he said.

ADF staff carry beverages in boxes
ADF staff have helped deliver food to people in the Katherine area.(ABC News: Jesse Thompson)

He also addressed what he called “a lot of shit” that was posted on the Internet about the Howard Springs quarantine facility.

“As we all know, Howard Springs is the gold standard facility in Australia for COVID quarantine and care.

A woman wearing PPE is carrying a bag in the bushland
Health workers have been on the ground in locked communities and providing supplies.(Delivered: NT Health)

“Thousands and thousands of Australians have stayed there, football stars and rappers have stayed there,” said Mr. Gunner.

“This is where our Olympians are quarantined. It’s Australia’s best and that’s why it’s also used for our first Australians.”

Yesterday, an Aboriginal health worker who received COVID-19 during the current NT outbreak, Luke Ellis, strongly criticized misinformation spread online and to remote communities about the vaccine.

“To see so many bulls ** t be divided around, especially by people who suddenly have no love for indigenous peoples [jumping] on the ‘genocide’ cart, when it suits them, is f *** ed, “Mr Ellis wrote in a Twitter thread.


“Indigenous people on earth have been constantly trying to raise awareness of things that affect our people, including long-term systemic racism. Trying to use us as props now is disgusting.”

While Mr Ellis defended the government’s evacuation of positive affairs and close contacts in remote communities, he said there were legitimate criticisms to be made about some aspects of the government’s response.

The government has been criticized for delays in securing vulnerable people access to tests and the poor living conditions that made people more vulnerable to the virus when it arrived and making hard shutdowns more difficult.

What do people on earth say?

Yesterday, Aboriginal communities said in lockdown that misinformation spread online about their situation harmed them.

“We are in a lockdown because we are in the biggest battle of our lives,” was a statement from traditional owners through aboriginal health service Wurli Wurlinjang.

“We do not appreciate people from outside coming up with comments that are untrue.

“People on social media who say our people are being abused have to realize that their comments hurt the very people they claim to care about. We want people to respect our privacy and show respect for our feelings. “

Northern Territory’s leading Aboriginal organizations, such as health groups and county councils, have backed the government’s handling of the outbreak and doubled their efforts this week to combat the hesitation with vaccines.

Their call, reiterated this week that the planned resumption of quarantine-free travel to the NT should be suspended until areas with low vaccination coverage have finally been addressed, has so far been ignored.

Over the weekend, the Northern Territory government unveiled its plan to end quarantine of arrivals from COVID-19 red zones on 20 December.

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