“We must never forget what happened. We must frequently remind ourselves of the terrible cruelty that a Government which has become drunk on power is capable of inflicting upon a dissenting minority, with no robust scientific basis, even in a so-called ‘liberal democracy’. We must remember how fragile basic freedoms are, and how easily civil liberties can be trampled on.”
In the Covid-tyranny stakes, few would dispute the fact that the State of Victoria comes in at top spot. Our capital city Melbourne earned the distinction of being the world’s most locked-down city, having endured 262 days of hard lockdown in 2020-21, during which residents could only leave their homes for one or two hours per day, within a 5km radius, for one of “four reasons” (exercise, work, caregiving and grocery shopping).
Melbourne, once known as “the world’s most liveable city”, has developed global notoriety as a place where $1600 fines are issued to teenagers having driving lessons, elderly women are pepper-sprayed, pregnant mums in pyjamas are arrested in front of their children, frail and disabled people are harassed by police for taking a break while walking, people are prohibited from removing their masks to have a drink outdoors, unarmed protesters are fired upon by lines of riot police, armoured vehicles are used to enforce stay-at-home orders, police conduct assaults in food markets, and heads are smashed into the ground at train stations.
It, therefore, came as little surprise to us when Victoria imposed what was arguably the most extreme and irrational mandatory vaccination regime seen in Australia thus far.
First of all, the Victorian Government announced at the beginning of October 2021 that all workers and volunteers, in every industry, would need to be “fully vaccinated” with one of the novel, gene-based Covid-19 vaccines in order to retain their employment (unless working from home). Unlike in other Australian States, where worker mandates primarily affected health workers and teachers, the Victorian mandate included everybody—farmers, repairmen, artists, musicians, sportsmen, factory workers, personal trainers, retail workers, car mechanics, journalists, volunteer firefighters, and even clergy—including those self-employed.
From November 2021, it became virtually impossible for a non-doubly vaccinated person aged 16 and over to earn a living in Victoria by any means unless he or she was lucky enough to be able to work from home.
As in the rest of Australia, exemptions from the vaccine mandate on all but the slimmest of medical grounds are impossible to obtain. Pregnancy is not grounds for an exemption. Even a previous serious adverse reaction to the first dose of a vaccine (eg. myocarditis) does not exempt a person from eventually needing the second dose in order to keep working.
But even these draconian worker mandates were not satisfactory, as far as the Victorian Government was concerned. Those who refused to submit themselves or their children to the Government’s demands were deserving of still harsher treatment.
And besides, what of retirees, stay-at-home parents and children under 16, who would be unaffected by the worker mandates? How would the Government coerce and compel people in these categories?
As it turns out, the Government found a way. From late October 2021 when Victoria’s sixth lockdown came to an end, every Victorian aged 12 and above became subject to a brutal, State-imposed system of apartheid that blocked unvaccinated people from returning to society.
If you were a Victorian aged 12 and above, and for whatever reason chose not to have two doses of a gene-based Covid 19 vaccine, you were henceforth unable to do any of the following:
- Sit down in a restaurant or café.
- Have a haircut.
- Attend a concert, including end-of-year school concerts and graduation events.
- Enter a clothing store, book shop, hardware store, or any other retail business considered “non-essential”.
- Attend a public indoor swimming pool or gym.
- Attend a church or religious service with more than 20 people present.
- Attend a funeral or wedding with more than 30 people present (even if outdoors).
As soon as the rules came into effect for “non-essential” retail on November 19, large retail outlets including K-Mart, Target, Myer, Officeworks and Bunnings Warehouse stationed marshals at every entrance, whose job it was to block entry to anyone who could not produce a “green tick” on their smartphone.
Many smaller local shops seemingly did not have the resources (or will) to enforce medical discrimination at the door; anecdotally, unvaccinated people were still able to enter some of these stores after November 19 and make purchases. Nevertheless, any non-compliant business risked a $21,809 fine if caught allowing a “leper” to browse their wares.
Disturbingly, even religious charity-owned op-shops came under the classification “non-essential” and accordingly prevented unvaccinated people from entering to purchase clothing. This led to a series of weekday protests in early December outside Melbourne op-shops run by the Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul, with protestors declaring that “Jesus would not discriminate”.
With unvaccinated people (including 12-year old children) unable to go even to K-Mart and op-shops to purchase clothing or shoes for themselves, it became something of a meme in Victoria that “clothing is no longer essential”.
While some Victorian religious leaders hailed the “20 person rule” (subsequently upgraded to a “30 person rule”) as a win, in effect all but the tiniest churches were required to segregate their congregations by medical status in order to re-commence their Sunday worship in November 2021. The majority of large churches ran their main services with more than 30 people present, with unvaccinated people (age 12 and up) barred from attending.
Melbourne’s iconic St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, located opposite Flinders Street Station, hired uniformed security guards to guard the door and deny entry to any would-be seekers and worshippers who could not prove their vaccination status.
The savagery and irrationality of Victoria’s medical apartheid system was underlined by the fact that the harshest measures (the barring of the unvaccinated from clothing shops and other retail) came into effect after the State reached a 90% vaccination rate—higher than virtually any other country in the world.
To date, no other State in Australia has banned its unvaccinated citizens—including teenage children—from shopping for clothing. No other State has prohibited unvaccinated 12-year-old children from having a haircut, joining their parents for a meal in a restaurant, going to church, or attending their school end-of-year concerts. No other state has floated the possibility of imposing segregation on 5-to-11-year-old children.
Further, the measures were brought in when it was already abundantly clear that the Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission of the virus, undermining the case for segregation of society based on vaccination status. Sure enough, in November 2021 Victoria saw several significant outbreaks of Covid at events where only vaccinated peoplewere permitted—even before the arrival of the omicron variant.
Victorians could have been forgiven for believing that this severe discrimination was instituted not for the protection of health, but as a means of punishing those 10 percent of folk who stood firm for medical autonomy and refused to submit their bodies to the State, at great cost to themselves.
Indeed, Victorians came out in force as soon as they were permitted by law. Starting on November 13, great hordes of people gathered from across Melbourne and regional Victoria, vaccinated and unvaccinated, from all walks of life, and from all political persuasions, to demonstrate in the CBD for six consecutive weekends. The size of the protests peaked at over a hundred thousand (some estimates place the number even higher, perhaps over two hundred thousand, on the 20th and 27th of November), and blocked city traffic for hours at a time. The city couldn’t help but take notice.
By mid-December, the Government had had enough. They had suffered embarrassment in Parliament while attempting to pass new pandemic legislation, embarrassment on the streets with the city centre disrupted by colossal protests for five weekends running, and even embarrassment in legacy media with the left-leaning Age newspaper calling for an end to the segregation in an editorial opinion.
They were confronted with the fact that their nonsensical and discriminatory policies had resulted in abuse and assaultsupon retail staff who were being forced to do the “dirty work” of policing customer vaccination status.
And so, on December 15th, the Government meekly announcedthat there would be no further vaccine-based apartheid in retail settings, churches, weddings and funerals. Children under the age of 18 would no longer have to show proof of vaccination at any venue, including restaurants. This represented a huge back-down, considering the Premier’s insistence the previous month that unvaccinated people would be “locked out” of retail until 2023, and his threat to potentially lock out 5-to-11-year-old children just a couple of weeks earlier.
There are at least four important things that we can take away from this dark time in Victoria’s history—a two month period during which even children were prevented from shopping for clothing or attending church on account of their own or their parents’ health choices.
Firstly, we must never forget what happened. We must frequently remind ourselves of the terrible cruelty that a Government which has become drunk on power is capable of inflicting upon a dissenting minority, with no robust scientific basis, even in a so-called “liberal democracy”. We must remember how fragile basic freedoms are, and how easily civil liberties can be trampled on. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
Secondly, we must recognise the power of protest. When a hundred thousand citizens disrupt the streets of a major city every Saturday, particularly leading up to an election year, they will be noticed even despite the best efforts of the corporate media to spin a false and disparaging narrative. Everyone who took part in the peaceful protests throughout November and December 2021 should feel proud that they contributed to the dismantling of some of the more grotesque elements of Victoria’s medical apartheid.
Thirdly, and following from this, we must not give up. Tens of thousands of everyday Victorians—teachers, nurses, tradesmen, shop assistants, etc.—remain unemployed and unemployable under the vaccine mandate, languishing without an income. Many Australians in other States are in the same boat. There is also no telling if and when other cruel restrictions, of the kind Victoria experienced in November-December 2021, may return. We should assume that they could return as soon as they are politically expedient.
For these reasons, we must continue the fight, in every way that we can, against the authoritarianism, prejudice and heartlessness that have been unleashed under the guise of fighting a disease. This will include marching visibly and loudly on the streets of Australian cities.
Fourthly, we should take heart. While the Government’s tyranny brought out the worst in some people, it brought out the best in others. People who otherwise share little in common have come together against an oppressive foe. Large new networks have sprung up in which people share information and support. There have been great displays of decency and humanity, such as the “Pamper at Parliament” event where hairdressers who had lost their jobs due to the vaccine mandate gave haircuts to people who were unable to attend an ordinary hairdresser due to vaccine apartheid.
Let’s rejoice that the hatred, ostracism and impoverishment created by Government have not succeeded in crushing the human spirit. No matter what the tyrants throw at us in 2022, let’s keep singing as Paul and Silas did while sitting in chains. Let’s keep supporting one another via the Free Hug Army, Hoody’s Helpers, Reclaim the Line, and similar initiatives. Let’s get behind the efforts of Topher Field, Discernable, Real Rukshan and other pro-human independent media.
Screenshots from the Victorian Government website (retrieved from before December 15, 2021):