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Ben Fordham hits back at Amanda Keller for suggesting he whipped up anti-lockdown riot in Sydney

Breakfast radio star Ben Fordham has hit back at his nemesis Amanda Keller who accused him of 'whipping up' anti-lockdown riots across Australia by criticising the restrictions.

'There are a lot of people who are frustrated with this lockdown, of course they are, but there's a lot of people also responsible for whipping up this up: people on other radio stations,' she told her WSFM listeners on Monday.

Keller's co-host Brendan Jones asked: 'Which other radio stations?'

Keller replied: 'I think Ben Fordham's been saying, "This lockdown's ridiculous".' 

Fordham has returned fire 24 hours after that baseless accusation, without mentioning Keller by name.

'Yesterday, someone complained that I described the month-long, great Sydney, never-ending lockdown as "ridiculous",' he said on Tuesday.

'Apparently, that kind of language is unhelpful at a time like this and it just whips people up.

'Well, my experience is people don't need any whipping up at the moment, they're already angry and anxious.'

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Breakfast radio star Ben Fordham (pictured) has hit back at his breakfast nemesis Amanda Keller who accused him of 'whipping up' anti-lockdown riots across Australia

Unlike Fordham, many of the people who gathered in downtown Sydney to protest were anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists who deny the existence of coronavirus.

The 2GB broadcaster on Tuesday reiterated his belief Sydney's eastern suburbs should have been locked down harder in mid-June when a limo driver at Bondi caught the virus from returned international travellers.

Fordham is also a critic of the delayed Covid disaster payments to affected businesses forced to shut down, in the absence of a federal JobKeeper scheme. 

The former TV reporter also criticised how anyone travelling more than 10km from their home is liable for a $1,000 fine, even in areas with zero active Covid cases, pointing out this was bad for the mental health of single people.

Riot control horses were required to control the crowds and 5,500 reports were made to police, with 63 people so far arrested for defying a public health order.  

Keller on Monday had also had a go at Alan Jones, Fordham's breakfast predecessor at 2GB who is now on Sky News. 

'The Sky presenters, Alan Jones, etcetera, "Why are we having this lockdown?",' she said.

'It's counterproductive. It whips all this up.'

Radio personality Amanda Keller has accused her breakfast rival Ben Fordham and conservative commentator Alan Jones of 'whipping up' anti-lockdown riots

Keller, who also hosts The Living Room on Network Ten, likened Sydney's anti-lockdown protestors with Americans who rioted for Donald Trump in January 2021 at the Capitol building in Washington DC in a bid to stop the Electoral College from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the November presidential election.

'It's like looking at Trump rallies,' she said. 

'It's not like Alan Jones to whip up a riot of sorts, not like Cronulla 2005,' he said.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority in 2007 found Alan Jones had vilified people of Middle Eastern ethnicity and had encouraged violence. 

Sydney's city centre was a scene of chaos on Saturday afternoon as hundreds of protesters stormed the streets to denounce the restrictions. Riot control horses were required to control the crowds and 5,500 reports were made to police, with 63 people so far arrested (including this man, pictured) for defying a public health order

Last week, two days before the Saturday riots, Fordham slammed the lockdowns as an 'easy option' for bureaucrats.

'And bloody hard work for everyone else,' he said on July 22.

'Sydney's a tough town. It's Australia's version of New York: if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere but that doesn't mean we are going to be treated like sheep forever and hypnotised by the mythical health advice.

'We want to know the facts: what justified each decision? What are the goals for getting out of this?

'If Plan A fails, what is Plan B? We need to get to a point of learning to live with the virus because it's not going anywhere. 

'That doesn't mean we let it rip through the community. It means slowly increasing freedoms where it's safe to do so.' 

In the GfK breakfast radio ratings for early July, Fordham came second behind Kyle Sandilands and Jackie 'O' Henderson with a 13.3 per cent share of listeners, with Keller and Brendan Jones on 8 per cent.

On his Sky News program, Jones has been much more critical of New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian's stricter lockdowns.

On his Sky News program, Alan Jones (pictured) has been much more critical of New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian's stricter lockdowns

'The anger out there is white hot. Perhaps we can have a compendium of some of the nonsense that's been trotted out to us because they obviously think that workers, business, families and teenage children are all stupid,' he said.

'Remember Gladys Berejiklian in May - "I fear for Victoria and I worry about what their government may do. We have demonstrated to other states it is possible to manage an outbreak and not shut down a city".

'Not one word of apology from Berejiklian for being hopelessly wrong.'

During the 13-minute segment on July 22, Alan Jones criticised the lockdown and the mask rules but he didn't suggest people should demonstrate on the streets in defiance of a public health order.

Rami Ykmour, the co-founder of the Rashays restaurant chain, said the lockdowns had caused revenue at his 21 Sydney outlets to fall by 70 per cent, with 11 of those in the worst-affected areas of south-west and western Sydney.

Rashays restaurant co-founder Rami Ykmour (pictured with his wife and business partner Shannon) said the lockdowns had caused revenue at his 21 Sydney outlets to fall by 70 per cent, with 11 of those in the worst-affected areas of south-west and western Sydney

The entrepreneur, who works out of Chester Hill with his wife Shannon, said he was against people rioting during a pandemic but understood why many were frustrated with the lockdown.

'I'm definitely against the riots, that's 100 per cent,' he told Daily Mail Australia on Monday.

'I could understand the frustration of people: people are desperate when their back is against a wall, they tend to do things that they probably would not do in normal circumstances.

'That's what I'm afraid is happening out there.' 

Mr Ykmour is calling for a revival of JobKeeper wage subsidies instead of an immediate end to lockdowns, as the restrictions stop service sector workers in western Sydney from being able to afford takeaway restaurant meals. 

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