The combative fringe of Australia’s anti-COVID-19 vaccination movement gets political
The public action over the last two weekends – complete with conspiracy theories and untruths – appears to be only the combative fringe of more softly-spoken vaccine hesitancy.
However, a new survey from the University of Melbourne found one in four Australians were still either against or unsure about receiving COVID-19 vaccinations.
Three in four said they were likely or very likely to accept.
The Somerville rally was organised by Reignite Democracy Australia, which claims on its website to be neither anti-vaccination nor pro-vaccination, but “pro-choice”.
The speakers and crowd, which waved placards emblazoned with “Jesus please help us”, “I am not your experiment” and other anguished slogans were decidedly anti.
Among the nebulous anti-establishment messages from speakers (“there is virtually nothing to distinguish us from [Communist] China”), common themes included peddling fear about COVID-19 vaccinations and reigniting anger about restrictions, most of which have been lifted.
RDA founder Monica Smit told the cheering crowd that newly independent MP Craig Kelly, who she claimed to speak to semi-regularly, “loves what we’re doing” and should be prime minister.
She also said she was working for the cause full-time. Next to the stage, “Freedom Fighter” T-shirts were a hit for $30 each.
Health experts have urged Australians to get their information from credible medical sources and not groups spreading disinformation on social media sites or at public demonstrations like that outside Mr Hunt’s office.
Saturday’s protest comes a week after police arrested 20 people at an anti-vaccination protest in South Yarra.
More than 500 people attended that event to hear speeches about the “non-existent pandemic” which, according to speakers and the hooting crowd, was a fabrication of governments, big pharmaceutical companies and the mainstream media.
The protesters gathered in Fawkner Park before blocking traffic along Toorak and St Kilda roads as they marched and chanted for “freedom”.
At the time, directions from the Chief Health Officer meant no more than 20 people could gather outside.
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Zach is a reporter at The Age. Got a story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org