A colleague of Michael McCormack has leapt to his defence after the acting prime minister embraced a slogan used by white supremacists and the far right.
Queensland Nationals senator Matt Canavan said his leader was speaking common sense when he declared "all lives matter" after linking an assault on the US Capitol with Black Lives Matter protests.
"I agree with Michael McCormack on all those things," Senator Canavan told Nine's Today on Wednesday.
"He had a great day because he spoke common sense. You cop criticism in this country these days for speaking common sense."
The Nationals leader used the inflammatory "all lives matter" line after copping criticism for comparing the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol to racial injustice protesters.
"I appreciate there are a lot of people out there who are being a bit bleeding heart about this and who are confecting outrage," Mr McCormack told reporters in Queensland on Tuesday.
"They should know those lives matter too. All lives matter. People shouldn't have to go to a protest and lose their life."
Mr McCormack said he abhorred violence in any form but refused to condemn President Donald Trump for inciting last week's riot.
"All lives matter" is used as a counter-argument to Black Lives Matter by Pauline Hanson and other far-right figures around the world.
"Of course black lives matter, but the Black Lives Matter movement is a completely debased organisation in the United States," Senator Canavan said.
"They've been responsible for untold damage."
Labor frontbencher Chris Bowen said Mr McCormack should apologise for comparing violence designed to undermine democracy with peaceful anti-racism protest.
Mr Bowen said the Nationals leader had form in smearing the Black Lives Matter movement.
"This is a guy who last year, claimed incorrectly that Black Lives Matter protests had become a super spreading event," he said.
"He's speaking at the moment for himself, not for Australia as acting prime minister."
Mr McCormack has also been criticised for refusing to censure government MPs including George Christensen for spreading misinformation about last week's siege on the Capitol by pro-Trump supporters.
Mr Christensen has also pushed conspiracy theories and unproven treatments throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr McCormack said people who didn't like Mr Christensen's social media posts should "toughen up".
"You might look out there and say the sky is blue and I can see from here that it's grey. If we go out from this rotunda there are probably blue patches," the acting prime minister said.
"There are a lot of subjective things."
But Liberal MP Fiona Martin is willing to call out her coalition party room colleague.
"Freedom of speech does not equal freedom of responsibility," Dr Martin posted to Twitter.
"In a political environment shaped by COVID, the responsibility of every MP is to safeguard democracy by rejecting disinformation and fake news. We have a duty to our nation to follow the evidence and facts."
Australian Associated Press