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Rebels without cause: Time to treat the anti-vax brigade like the pests they are

Opinion

Freedom to clog hospitals is worth fighting against. Madonna King comments.

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The anti-everything mob train has to be derailed, and it’s now incumbent on our governments to do that.

This group – whether they are screaming profanities in Melbourne, spreading the virus in Sydney or trying to sabotage the vaccine roll-out in Brisbane – needs a reality check.

And that’s the role of our governments. They are voted in, to act on behalf of the majority. They make laws to grow the economy, protect the vulnerable, and keep their constituents safe.

On every measure, they need to turn their attention now towards the anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown, anti-everything mob – and not be scared to act.

These people are low-grade criminals, intent on violence, and should be treated as such.

Surely, the first step is for our politicians to genuinely make vaccines mandatory.

Encouragement is working too slowly with the general population. And it is emboldening this mob.

Offering incentives won’t work either with unruly bogans who throw missiles at police, knock down journalists, and make Nazi salutes at cameras.

This is not freedom of speech, or freedom to protest. Perhaps it started that way, but targeting police, planning assaults, and using weapons crosses every respectable line. So does dragging their children along to protests they are too young to understand.

The motives of most of them are vacuous. The anti-vaxxers were small in number and easily ignored pre-pandemic. Now they’ve built a bigger base on the back of fear and joining forces with other fringe groups who are opposed to lockdown and authority and probably the colour of the rainbow. Suffering limelight deprivation, right-wing extremists and other conspiracy theorists have joined for the ride.

This group want the television cameras, which they should be denied. They want their voice heard, and we need to mute it. They want to wreck a national health plan, nutted out to ensure we lose as few lives as possible, and which is based on a minimum vaccine model.

That requires this rabble to be disbanded. And if vaccines are to be mandatory (and seen as important), not compulsory (and seen as essential), the message has to be delivered in other ways.

No prick no play, perhaps, and it won’t be long before schools are taking the decision to require students to be vaccinated before being enrolled. Many parents will applaud that – because it will keep their own children safe.

But perhaps we should consider taking it further. How about No Vaccine, No Vacation. Some airlines have even preempted that – but it’s hit and miss. What difference might a uniform policy across airlines and hotels and states make to vaccine rates?

Grocery shopping was deemed an essential outing during lockdown. So why not have a No Shot, No Shop policy to ban the anti-vaxxers from shopping centres.

Melbourne’s protests this week are as heart-breaking as they are abominable. This was a strategic and organised attack on a community, most of them in lockdown. It was akin to staging a super-spreader event.

Imagine being a nurse, watching that horde defending their right to destroy the health system they are working night and day to prop up.

In places across Australia, and especially in Queensland, we have families being torn apart because the broader health plan dictates it. They can’t see each other, or cross borders to attend funerals, or even to see a specialist because of the risk it poses.

Yet we allow hundreds of protestors to ignore science and the law and common decency to stage an event that puts us all at increased risk.

And they are doing this by stealth. Spreading lies online, creating fake posters, and making vaccine appointments but not turning up in the hope the vaccine is wasted.

Cajoling and nudge economics can work in some circumstances. But not here. Encouragement and incentives are lost on this mob.

It’s time to fight the freedoms of this small, ignorant and noisey bunch with the freedoms of millions of Australians who are desperate to put COVID19 in our rear-vision mirror.

 

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