Daniel Andrews was the subject of a satirical article for his handling of the pandemic. 

Fake Daniel Andrews quote wrongly loses satire label

AAP FactCheck September 18, 2020

The Statement

An Instagram post claims Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said “insisting on human rights” under COVID-19 restrictions was not only selfish but also stupid.

The September 17 post by an Instagram user features a black-and-white image of Daniel Andrews next to a quote reading: “In fact, you’d be surprised at how much can be avoided if people stop insisting on their personal freedoms. Because insisting on human rights is not only selfish, it’s stupid.”

The quote is attributed to: “Daniel Andrews – Premier of Victoria, September 2020”.

The user’s caption reads: “Nothing should stand above human rights. Nothing!”

The post had been viewed more than 50,000 times and attracted more than 1300 likes and 200 comments at the time of publication.

An Instagram post with a quote wrongly attributed to Daniel Andrews
 Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews did not make this statement about human rights. 

The Analysis

The quote attributed to Daniel Andrews originated in a satirical article mocking the premier’s response to the pandemic, with a Victorian government spokeswoman confirming Mr Andrews never made the statement included in the post.

Amid the state’s COVID-19 second wave, the Victorian government imposed strict lockdown restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including a curfew and limits on the distance people can travel from their homes.

However some Victorian residents have voiced their displeasure at the measures, taking to the streets during “Freedom Day” protests against the restrictions. Federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson has reportedly written to human rights organisations asking for an investigation into the rules which, he claims, could be a breach of human rights legislation.

Daniel Andrews previously responded to calls the curfew restrictions violated human rights by saying: “it’s not about human rights, it’s about human life”.

The quote misattributed to Mr Andrews in the Instagram post originally appeared in a satirical article published by The Spectator Australia on September 15. The article is titled: “If you don’t want to be kicked in the head, don’t put your head under a jackboot. It’s not only selfish, it’s stupid.”

In its first line, the piece includes the disclaimer: “Drongo alert: what follows is satire.” This section of text is written in bold and italicised.

The article includes comments, purportedly made by Mr Andrews, that a heavy-handed police response to demonstrations “can be avoided if people don’t protest”.

“In fact, you’d be surprised at how much can be avoided if people stop insisting on their personal freedoms. Because insisting on human rights is not only selfish, it’s stupid,” it goes on to quote Mr Andrews as saying.

The satirical quote appears to be drawn from Mr Andrews’ statement at a September 13 media conference, during which he was asked about police actions in response to several incidents during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Regarding one incident involving a protester, Mr Andrews said: “Much of this, sorry, all of this, can be avoided if people don’t protest, because protesting is not only selfish, it’s stupid.”

However, this comment was made in the context of protests taking place during the state’s COVID-19 lockdown and cannot be taken as a general position, nor does it include any disparaging reference to people “insisting on personal freedoms” or “human rights”.

The Instagram post in question uses the identical satirical quote but fails to label it as satire. The same account has previously posted an image calling the COVID-19 pandemic “the greatest medical fraud in world history”.

A Victorian government spokeswoman told AAP FactCheck Mr Andrews did not make the statement included in the Instagram post.

“This is not a comment from the Premier,” the spokeswoman said in an email.

The Spectator piece mocks the Victorian premier’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and also includes fake quotes from Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The Verdict

A Victorian Government spokeswoman told AAP FactCheck Mr Andrews did not make the comment included in the Instagram post.

The quote originated in an article in The Spectator Australia where it was clearly marked as satire. However, the Instagram post that used the identical quote did not label it as satire.

False – The primary claim in this post is factually inaccurate.

Update 10/11/2020 17:25 AEDT: Analysis amended to include Daniel Andrews comments at September 13 press conference and additional context surrounding these comments.

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