On 24 July 2021, Freedom Marchers protested Covid-related restrictions in the streets around Australia. They were walking a path laid by fellow law-breakers Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Lech Walesa –good but powerless people vilified for protesting oppressive government.
The tsunami of vitriol that crashed down on the Freedom Marchers has, with the passage of time, morphed into a valuable opportunity for many to learn that at least some Covid restrictions are nutty.
The anti-Freedom March gang were in unison – it was a certain Covid super-spreader event! The lockdown would be extended because the marchers would catch Covid at the event and then disperse back into and infect their communities.
Paul Bongiorno tweeted that I would be ‘probably on a ventilator within a week’. Zali Steggall posted, ‘Do not return to Warringah. You are putting our businesses and health at risk. Name, shame and fine anyone identified. When these idiots test positive they’re on their own’. Peter FitzSimons went on a tweet storm: ‘You are stupid irresponsible bastards! We are in the middle of a major health crisis and gathering tightly without masks, to promote batshit crazy ideas is INSANTIY!’ And, ‘you seriously think this kind of INSANITY will make you electable for the people of Warringah. I can think of nothing more calculated to mark you down as a nutter’.
Golly! If someone has an impulse to demonise good citizens upset about an oppressive government it’s best to first do some learning.
Covid is contagious in confined spaces. Freedom Marches and Black Lives Matter gatherings in other nations have dwarfed their equivalents in Australia. Not one of those events has been recorded as causing a single Covid infection.
Chris O’Keefe is the Nine News political reporter in Sydney. On 5 July 2021 O’Keefe told viewers, ‘Nine News has confirmed since the pandemic began, NSW Health has not recorded one single person who has caught the virus outside, proving outrage at packed beaches and parks is not backed up by science’. That got noticed on social media and the next evening O’Keefe went further, ‘when you look at the science there has not been one case in NSW, even in Australia where someone has caught the virus outdoors’.
On 11 May 2021, the New York Times reported, ‘There is not a single documented Covid infection anywhere in the world from casual outdoor interactions such as walking past someone on a street or eating at a nearby table’.
Beachgoers harassed by police helicopters know this simple realty as did the Freedom Marchers – why else would they turn up? Australia would have more rational Covid leadership if our politicians and ‘medical experts’ resigned en masse and were replaced by random members of the Freedom March.
Ever since the Freedom March the press has badgered politicians and bureaucrats at the 11am daily press briefing, asking ‘are any new Covid cases connected to the Freedom March?’ These reporters were itching to broadcast how bad the Freedom Marchers were.
Five days in and the media had hope. One person, we were told, had attempted to attend the Freedom March but didn’t and they subsequently got Covid! That was the lead story (laughably) for a while on a major news website but that’s all they got from that dry well.
The critics of the Freedom Marches do not lack the intelligence to know Covid is not contagious outside – they lack the will to know it. Peter FitzSimons was an enthusiast for the Black Lives Matter protest at a time when Covid had a far higher fatality rate so his rage is obviously not about public health.
No media figure has been more gung-ho about having the harshest possible Covid clampdown than FitzSimons. His tweets and writings are dripping with rage for those who know this is a serious public health matter but disagree that it’s the apocalypse. Its hard to know what their motive is but the ‘Covid Honesty Award’ goes to Jane Fonda who was rapturous with joy when she declared, ‘Covid is God’s gift to the Left.’ The Left love anything which makes the state bigger and bossier. Covid has turbo-charged their agenda so their ire comes down on those who challenge their Golden Calf.
Our political leaders were the most cranky against Freedom Marchers. Premier Berejiklian said, ‘I am utterly disgusted by the illegal protesters in the City today whose selfish actions have compromised the safety of us all. This type of activity will not be tolerated and the full force of the law will be brought against anyone who engages in this type of illegal activity’. Many of her Cabinet were worse. The politicians are so incensed because the Freedom Marchers were saying what the insecure politicians know deep down – they’ve painted themselves into a corner and are harming Australia.
There were two other critiques of the Freedom Marchers.
Firstly, that the march was illegal. A tiny number of fools did break the law but ‘the law’ and ‘moral law’ are not the same thing and the latter in some cases trumps the former as James Allan so eloquently wrote in these pages recently.
And secondly, the question of violence. Over 99 per cent of Freedom Marchers saw zero violence until they watched the news replay endlessly a clip about 20 seconds long from the Freedom March. I had zero involvement with arranging the Freedom March but have since spoken to someone who did. He questions whether there were agent provocateurs who turned up to throw objects at police to cause a 20 second scene. Hard to know but it’s a well-documented tactic of the hard left in America.
A recent Essential Poll found that 18 per cent of respondents are supportive of the Freedom Marches and 15 per cent unsure. When we factor in the endless unfair media reports and the general sense of intimidation (the army is on the streets) I reckon one-in-four Aussies are supportive of the Freedom Marchers and that number is growing.
The Liberal Democrats will soon formally submit a request to the NSW Police for a permit to hold a ‘Freedom Picnic’ in Sydney’s Domain. The Freedom Picnic is a proposed legal gathering that will not proceed without approval. We’ve established it couldn’t be a super-spreader and so we hope the NSW Police will make their decision free of political pressure. If approval is denied we will do what Black Lives Matter did in the same circumstances and ask the courts to uphold the ancient right to peacefully assemble and protest government. I hope to see you in the Domain for the Freedom Picnic.
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John Ruddick is the Liberal Democrats candidate for the federal seat of Warringah
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