• Aisling Salisbury

I Am Not OK With What's Happening

Updated: Feb 16


So recently there have been a couple of things that have made me disappointed to be an Australian. One started a few weeks ago when a family who lived in New South Wales but closer to the major hospitals in Queensland were denied entry to the state to follow their newborn. The child was airlifted to an Infant Intensive Care Unit moments after being born. The parents could not follow their child unless they would pay $5000 for a hotel quarantine for 14 days. Their newborn was requiring emergency treatment to survive the first days of their new life and the parents couldn't be by their bedside even in a medical emergency. The response from the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk was:

"People living in NSW they have NSW hospitals. In Queensland, we have Queensland hospitals for our people."

Hospitals in Australia are for all Australians. You might also know that the country is massive and there isn't a major hospital in every city. A lot of regional centres have Base Hospitals and rely on the Air Ambulance and even the Royal Flying Doctors Service to get them to a major hospital in an emergency. Such as this case. The comments of the Queensland Premier was absolutely disgraceful. "All in this together" or the Australian mantra of "helping a mate out", not anymore it seems.


If that situation had me dry reaching then the arrest of Zoe-Lee Buhler in the last week by Victorian Police has me, despite what is happening in the US, contemplating looking at seeking asylum.


On Saturday, September 5th many "anti-lockdown" protesters were planning to conduct a protest to argue the un-justification, draconian ways and no planning to get out of the second wave of COVID that the State Government's bungling had caused. This was exacerbated when the State Government now had it's "State of Emergency" powers extended. This protest was dubbed "Freedom Day."

Now yes, originally this protest would've been filled with the antivaxers, conspiracy theory folk and anti 5G crowd. However, the majority of these protesters or those that were showing an interest in protesting were the "average Joe" and small business owners. As Scott Morrison would call "the quite Australians". The movement gained momentum when the Andrews Government received an extension of their "State of Emergency" Powers.


Victorians have now had enough of lockdowns that restarted in July and for the last five weeks they have actually faced house arrest. That's right, you must be at home for 23hrs of each day. People have had enough! Combined with the lack of logical arguments coming from State Officials the thought of conducting this protest a week later was out of the question. Especially given that the Government isn't suggesting any timeline to reopen to a "COVID normal". Although later today, Father's Day, there is supposed to be something. Fingers-crossed sanity prevails and the economy can start recovering, I don't have high hopes though.


But what has me considering asylum in the US is the fact that Victoria has become a massive Police state. As for Australia, state leaders are locking borders between themselves and neighbours and thus restricting the ability to travel and trade between states freely, which is in contradiction to the constitution. Families are restricted from seeing each other based on their location. Seriously what is happening to Australia?


Before we go anywhere here I do want to say this. I think protests need to go ahead against the Andrews Government and other state authorities that are strangling their state's and in turn the country's economy. However, in Victoria especially, this is not the time to do it in a mass gathering! So anyone who plans to protest I do think, come down on them and stop the gatherings. I said it to people in June with the BLM protests and I'm saying it again. Find another way to fight your cause. One that doesn't involve mass gatherings and gives the State Government an opportunity to keep the lockdowns going. Be patient! Write letters to your MPs and get online to debate with the Twitter-mob and by that I mean debate or even if asked by a pollster answer truthfully even if it isn't mainstream. The more this happens the more the tide will turn. However, it seems that even online Social Media is being shutdown. The most sicking thing happened on Tuesday and it's sickening because of the massive double standards of the Andrews Government.

Zoe-Lee Buhler a 28-year-old young mother and currently eight months pregnant was arrested, handcuffed, all electronic items in the house seized and marched to a police station. Why? She must be a domestic terrorist or something right? Nope, far from it. Zoe who resides near the Regional town of Ballarat made a Facebook post. She was supporting "Freedom Day" and was sharing the details of the protest. With the words:

“As some of you may have seen the government has gone to extreme measures and are using scare tactics through the media to prevent the Melbourne protest,” the now-deleted event description read. Here in Ballarat we can be a voice for those in stage four lockdowns. We can be seen and heard and hopefully make a difference!”

She was arrested and charged for "Incitement", in enticing people to break the health orders and is now facing up to 15 years prison if convicted. What has this country got to?


Now as I said, I would love to be protesting right now in Victoria to remove the Andrews Government and the stranglehold it is placing on the state. However, this is not the time. So I get the Police having to shut these things down ASAP. But the arrest of this woman is beyond heavy-handed and disgraceful. The reason for this is because back in June the police didn't do the same with the BLM protests. With the BLM protests, you didn't just have 10,000 people listed online confirming their attendance, but you also had the organisers holding daily press conferences. Police did nothing this time around. This is despite the same "State of Emergency" been in effect at the time. This Protest went ahead and only a week later three organisers were charged with $1600 fines each. This was mostly due to media and public outcry. For three months before the BLM protest you were told frequently by Victorian Government Officials "if you leave home you will kill someone one" and "if you play golf someone will die" then all of a sudden 10,000 people protest in the City and remain stagnant with no social distancing?


This was exacerbated and encouraged by the Government officials and Victoria Police. Effectively no heavy-handed tactics, as seen here in this case, there was not even encouragement to assuage people from attending the BLM protests. In that week we heard from the Police Minister:

"It will be very difficult with 6000-10000 people there. Victoria Police won't be pulling up people out and giving them infringements it would be impossible to do that without it leading to violence."

The Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said:

"We will exercise discretion. We don't want to be in enforcement mode, being Robo-Cop"

During that week Politicians "encouraged" people not to go. As I said Victoria was in a "State of Emergency" back then, not a "State of Disaster" like it is now but the narrative from the Government was mainly fear-mongering tactics. That this disease was effectively the new Ebola. Yet it didn't go heavy-handed with preventing this protest from going ahead. This in turn also set a dangerous precedence to the state that stated that "you must stay at home or else you will kill someone but if you want to protest and can get large numbers, we will lay down our narrative."


Now I agree with the Police Minister to an extent as to what she said in June. If you started handing out fines or arresting people as the masses grow it could be a safety issue for everyone. However, in the week leading up to the BLM protest, you could've had police doing the same thing as what they did in the last week. Arresting the organisers for "incitement" or something different. Instead, the Police were ordered to effectively stand back. This time around I do get it. You want to get on the front foot this time around, stop a protest before it can even organise itself. But the arrest of Zoe and others is heavy-handed and reeks of double standards.


Despite what one person, I am going to say it, a troll, debated with me the other day and even then I will use the term "debated" loosely when he commented on one of my social media posts that people knew the organisers were going to be fined before the BLM protest. This is incorrect and despite providing factual arguments to each one of his statements he eventually cowered away because I wasn't getting emotional. I was providing facts that couldn't be countered, remarkably he was using the Trump mantra of "fake news" and "don't believe everything in the papers". To which I replied, "I've also watched many of the government senate committees on this subject and why do you think I just provided you with a quote, straight from an inquiry? I do my research!"


As for the topic at hand about "knowing they were going to be fined" it wasn't until the Friday that the government finally said that they "may" issue fines. But ultimately 3 organisers are charged $1600 each a week later for inciting a protest that resulted in 10,000 people gathering in the city during COVID restrictions and the "State of Emergency". How can you not feel for Zoe and anyone who is right now questioning the COVID restrictions, especially in centres that have never seen the virus and are getting arrested for opinions and expression? What has happened here is a double standard, end of the story!

The same Assistant Commissioner also showed no heart with the arrest of Zoe stating that effectively Police were following standard procedure and would not discriminate regardless of circumstances. Why wasn't the Police ordered in that week of the BLM protest to do the same thing as they did to Zoe? If you can't see the issue with this double-standard then I'm sorry you are beyond help.


Zoe offered to remove the post immediately and could've probably have worked with the police right there and then and have posted something along the lines of "hey everyone I was just approached by the police and reminded that mass gatherings will face strict penalties more so now due to the State of Disaster, I have been let off with a warning. Please do not go to one protest and find another way to ensure the message is heard. There will be a day soon when we can hit the streets, but now is not the time." Instead, she was handcuffed in her PJs in front of her kids and treated like a Domestic Terrorist.


I will say it again, this didn't happen previously and the BLM Organisers who only got slapped with $1600 fines each. This here was a proposed protest against Government failures, decisions and indecisions to get us out of Lockdown and to boost the economy. A Government that seems content on not selling hope but fear. A Government that appears to want to keep people at home for as long as possible. Especially in centres like Ballarat where there have been very few cases yet their economy is plummeting because they are being treated like an epicentre like Melbourne. So you post online about support for a protest that is "anti-government" and you are arrested and treated as a Domestic terrorist and are now facing up to 15 years in prison. What is even more disgraceful about the case of Zoe is that her family and herself have faced death threats. Her brother who was organising a Go-fund-me page for his sister's legal costs had to cancel it due to the amount of hate received on the platform. Her mother had to cancel a TV appearance for personal safety risks. If this is what is happening then this is . . .

The response from Zoe after being released by Police is absolutely incredible. She speaks the truth.

I would love to see those who believed that the protesters that intended to go to "Freedom Day" are all conspiracy nuts. Zoe is correct, people are dying. Paramedics are being called to suicides each day in Victoria, the data isn't out but it would certainly suggest that suicides are going to outnumber the deaths to COVID and 400,000+ people have lost their jobs permanently. It's also impossible to believe that our fearless leader Daniel Andrews hadn't seen the video of the arrest considering more than seven million people have seen it and it has made world headlines.


Andrews did appear to be hot under the collar whilst being questioned about this situation. I hope it remains so. I have said it before. The bell is tolling for you Mr Andrews and the Police State you have created. In Andrews' Press Conference he is now trying to shift all blame for this on the Police force. If Zoe's case has done anything it's to say that we are heading down a very dangerous path. Your government set a precedent in June that protesting was OK. Where were your heavy-handed tactics then? An "anti-government" protest results in the full-strength of the law but an American protest that is trying to be manufactured as a "we too in Australia" is ok?


I have nothing against Victoria Police, they are being instructed to enforce these laws and are doing the job they are instructed to do. But if you are OK with what is happening right now or not even raising an eyebrow then you are beyond help. I am not OK with what is happening and more and more people I know will start to follow. It's time for the "quite Australians" to stand-up. As I say find a way to protest that doesn't involve mass-gatherings. Do it safely and ensure it is known that what is happening right now is not OK!


Ash

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