Fronted by Katter’s Australian Party MP Shane Knuth, the rally in the far north Queensland community of Atherton was one of many held across the country denouncing government plans to impose greater restrictions on people who choose to not be vaccinated against Covid.
Like other rallies in capital cities and regional towns, the word “segregation” was used often, deployed by protestors to describe conditions people will be living under when vaccinated people will have greater freedoms than those who decline the jab.
It was used earlier this month in a KAP media release that slammed the Queensland Government for sowing “the seeds of an ‘us vs them’ mentality that will divide citizens, leave businesses in the lurch and is reminiscent of some of the darkest periods of human history”.
Atherton doctor Louis Peachey, who saw posts of the rally from Knuth’s Twitter account, said events over the weekend showed a poor understanding of Australian history, particularly in regard to the treatment of Aboriginal people, arguing the Australian Federation was built on segregation.
“I am beyond disappointed,” Peachey posted on Twitter.
“For this mob to claim that segregation is un-Australian shows utter ignorance of history.”
Peachey indicated the rally was particularly offensive, given it coincided with the opening of a specialist Indigenous health clinic within earshot of the noisy protest.
“The anti-vax movement has been keen to appropriate the term segregation,” he said.
“Having that mob cry about their ‘faux segregation’ across the road from the official opening of a new Aboriginal Medical Service building is the height of audacity.”
Peachey said on Twitter that he would be seeking a meeting with Knuth to express his “deep disappointment in this new low, showing profound disregard for the feelings of Aborigines like me”.
“As a 55-year-old Aboriginal man, I had thought I had seen it all. Evidently, I am deeply mistaken,” he said.
Peachey’s comments come as the State Government launches another blitz this week to lift vaccination rates in regional Queensland and health experts warn Indigenous communities remain particularly vulnerable due to lower-than-average dosages administered.
InQueensland sought comment from Knuth, who was unavailable because he was “having a day off”, according to an office staffer.
The Member for Hill has previously stated that he is against tougher restrictions on unvaccinated people because it will shift further burdens on business to police the rules.
“From the beginning we have not supported mandatory vaccination and businesses are doing it tough,” he said on November 9.
“The tourism industry, cafes, pubs and clubs have already suffered enough and right now they are telling me they are feeling pressured to enforce and police patrons visiting their premises.”
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