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Tim Wilson joins Hong Kong marchers but draws fire for historic tweet | Australia news

An Australian government MP who once mocked Australian protesters as “time wasters” has joined Hong Kong protesters in a show of support for the latest round of anti-government demonstrations.

Federal Liberal MP Tim Wilson marched with activists on Sunday as the city railed against a new ban on face masks and the declaration of authoritarian colonial British-era powers that have not been used since 1967.

Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, invoked the emergency powers on Friday, allowing her to ban face coverings popular with protesters.

On Monday Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, expressed concern over the escalation of force and called on the government to “address the genuine concerns of Hong Kong citizens”.

Police reportedly fired a live round into the thigh of a 14-year old boy on Saturday, and shot a young protester in the chest with a live round last week.

“We are very concerned by the use of live ammunition, fired ­directly and at close range,” Payne said. “We urgently call for restraint and for proportionate use of force, and we condemn violence. The immediate focus must be on de-­escalation.”

Tim Wilson MP (@TimWilsonMP)

Proud to #StandWithHongKong. Strange fact: The last time (2003) I protested in #HongKong I was wearing a pink polo as well. pic.twitter.com/7aP57qEUJG

October 6, 2019

On Sunday Wilson praised the courage of protesters, saying they were “on the frontline of a contest between competing world views”.

“[They] have picked liberal democracy – and as a liberal democrat, it’s hard not to be inspired by that,” he said.

However, Wilson was heavily criticised on social media for a previous tweet he had made, where he called for “water cannons” to be brought in to quell Australian protesters in 2011.

“Walked past Occupy Melbourne protest, all people who think freedom of speech [equals] freedom to be heard, time wasters … send in the water cannons,” he said.

Many Twitter users responded to his post on Sunday by quoting the 2011 tweet and accusing him of hypocrisy. Wilson was not an MP at the time the comments were made, and was elected to the seat of Goldstein five years later, in 2016. The tweet was made from his previous handle @timwilsoncomau, which has since been changed to @TimWilsonMP.

Tim Wilson MP (@TimWilsonMP)

Walked past Occupy Melbourne protest, all people who think freedom of speech = freedom 2 b heard, time wasters ... send in the water cannons

October 21, 2011

Last week the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, said that Australian protesters should have their welfare payments cut or face mandatory jail sentences for disruptive actions.

On Twitter, the Chinese-Australian dissident artist Badiucao also accused Wilson of being “all talk, no action”.

The anti-Chinese Communist party cartoonist said he and Hong Kong activist Denise Ho visited Wilson’s office earlier in the year asking for “a protection system” for Chinese students but was told this was not the government’s job.

In a screenshot shared by the artist, Wilson direct messaged him to say that this claim was false and was a “really dumb way to burn your allies”.

巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao)

But u r all talk no action!
when i and Denise Ho visit ur office, i ask u to establish a protection system for Chinese in Australian univercities.
but you said thats not ur job or our gov‘s job.
Real politicians r decided by real action,but selfie with political celebrity. https://t.co/psiK9maH6T

October 5, 2019
巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao)

good job on @TimWilsonMP dumbing me
why dont u make the discussion public like u post selife?
of course,ur party‘s job is taking away funding for public not giving.
without a equally strong Chinese media in Australia,the beijing puppet ones will keep manipulate people here pic.twitter.com/jgKhrD3E4s

October 6, 2019

The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, also dismissed Wilson, telling reporters on Monday: “I don’t give him a lot of thought, frankly, and nor do his colleagues. If Tim Wilson could get a run standing in front of the water cannons, he would.”

Wilson later fired back on Twitter.

Tim Wilson MP (@TimWilsonMP)

Lolz. @AlboMP spends a lot of time thinking about how to slap down someone he doesn’t think about. Maybe he should pay attention, then he’d have known how toxic his #RetireeTax was. Maybe he wanted @AustralianLabor to lose so he could be Leader of the Opposition.

October 7, 2019

Hong Kong’s ban on face masks has been enabled by the declaration of the emergency regulations ordinance, which grants the government power to “make any regulations” in the public interest during “an occasion of emergency or public danger”.

Created by the colonial British government in 1922, the law has not been used since 1967, when it clamped down on pro-communist riots.

Wilson has been contacted for comment.

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