Page 1701 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 7 June 2022

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conditions, or if we have family living interstate or overseas. And probably most pertinent is when or if you or your family, household or workplace have had COVID-19 exposures. Regardless of our circumstances, our challenges, and our individual coping mechanisms and levels of resilience, it has been incredibly encouraging to see the way that our community has come together to support each other.

The thing that has struck me over the last couple of years is how quickly everything changes. It is important to point out that there are some people in our community that have struggled with these changes. I want to acknowledge some constituents in my electorate that I have built a relationship with over the last year or so that have raised their concerns about public health mandates, vaccines and the future of our society more broadly. I always believe we should ask questions. I encourage people in my electorate to ask me questions and to talk to me about their concerns. I may not always have the same point of view, but I will listen.

Questions, inquiry and scrutiny of evidence are more important than ever, and they are critical to maintaining the confidence of our community as we continue to navigate the pandemic. I want to assure those handful of residents that I have looked at the amendment bill, the evidence and the amendments, I have talked to many people, and I am confident about supporting this legislation.

As part of my engagement with these constituents, they have sent me videos and documents to back up their concerns. These are many of the same documents and YouTube videos that are widely circulated by anti-vaccine and anti-mandate groups. What troubles me deeply is that it never takes me more than one Google of the source—that is, the “doctor” who is speaking out, or the group—to see major warning signs. They are doctors who are long retired, those who have lost their medical licences and those that are looking for notoriety, and some are not even doctors at all; or they are faceless, and say that they fear retribution. Most of these sources are from overseas.

The language they use is fearmongering. It is not medical language; it is emotive and it is distressing. I feel very angry towards the creators of these groups and this media that are targeting people who are fearful in our community for their own self-interest, in a very coordinated, calculated way. They have preyed on the vulnerable.

It has been a scary time, and I will remember points of the pandemic—announcements, moments in time, decisions to go and get vaccinated, to vaccinate my children—as moments that I will remember for the rest of my life. Some of these moments scared me, some were empowering, but my decision to stay home to minimise my interaction with people, to wear a mask and get vaccinated were the little bit that I could do to keep our community and my family safe. But some in our community did not feel this sense of empowerment to balance the fear.

The very real fear that these people have felt has increasingly led them to turn away from their families and friends, away from mainstream news, away from knowledge of our academic institutions and government institutions, and engage in online forums with like-minded people, where misinformation and egos reign supreme. This

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