The deputy prime minister has been slammed for suggesting Black Lives Matter protests held in Victoria contributed to the state's second wave of COVID-19.
Michael McCormack appeared on ABC's Q&A on Monday night to discuss the coronavirus-stricken state and the government's handling of the crisis.
When host Hamish Macdonald asked whether Victoria's contact tracing system could be trusted if the state were to ease restrictions, Mr McCormack's answer had the rest of the panelists scratching their heads.
'We have had that outbreak because of the security guards, who did the wrong thing. We had that outbreak because of a family who gathered in too large a number. We had the outbreak in Victoria because of a protest rally,' he said.
Macdonald immediately disputed the statement and insisted there was no proven link between the second outbreak of COVID-19 and any BLM rallies.
'What's the evidence of the protest rally leading to the outbreak... Sorry, you're drawing a link that I'm not sure is substantiated in fact,' he said.
'I'm not sure there is any actual evidence that the Black Lives Matter protest led to this outbreak.'
But Mr McCormack doubled down on his claim, arguing that it formed part of the official reasoning given at the height of the crisis.
'When the second wave occurred, they were the three reasons that were given. It was the security failure, it was the family that gathered in too large numbers-'
But Macdonald interjected again, asking him to accept that he was 'wrong' in blaming protesters.
An inquest into the failures of the state's mandatory hotel quarantine system have suggested the majority of all new cases can be traced back to returned travellers.
Instead of acknowledging those findings, Mr McCormack again reiterated his belief that