Chief Minister Michael Gunner continued the public persecution of who he says are anti-mandatory vaccine sympathisers in Parliament Tuesday, incorrectly outing CLP health critic Bill Yan as attending the so-called “freedom” rally in Darwin on Saturday.
Mr Gunner did not say who told him Mr Yan was at the event, however, the CLP and Mr Yan immediately rejected the claims.
After being asked during another Question Time that descended into farce what the government is doing to help small businesses comply with the Chief Health Officer’s mandatory vaccination requirements for employees, Mr Gunner went on the attack instead of answering the question.
He claimed that Member for Namatjira Bill Yan was seen at the rally and used the intel he had been given to suggest his attendance was further proof that the CLP opposed the government’s mandatory vaccine policy.
It’s unclear if police reported Mr Yan to Mr Gunner, or if a public servant or member of the public dobbed Mr Yan in to the Chief Minister for being in the vicinity of the protest.
“They’re providing comfort for anti-vaxxers,” Mr Gunner shouted at one point, in a bizarre scene inside Parliament.
Opposition Leader Lia Finocchiaro rejected the assertions and said the CLP is on the record supporting the mandatory vaccine policy.
Mr Yan told Parliament during an explanatory statement at the end of Question Time that he was on a walk between his hotel and a supermarket when the protest passed by him.
“I absolutely refute the Chief Minister’s assertation in the strongest terms and he should be ashamed for his pathetic attempts to further divide the community by peddling falsehoods and lies,” Mr Yan said.
“I want to be very clear, I wasn’t part of that protest.”
Health Minister Natasha Fyles then told Parliament she was offended by Mr Yan’s comments defending himself and demanded they be withdrawn.
Last month, Mr Gunner told the ABC in a statement that “vulnerable Territorians” were at risk and that everyone needed to follow his mandatory vaccination policy. He also provided a definition of who he believes are anti-vaxxers.
“If you support anti-vaxxers, if you give them comfort, if you give them a green light, if you advocate for their right to choose over the safety of our vulnerable Territorians, then you are an anti-vaxxer,” Mr Gunner said.
Mr Gunner’s list of publicly identified anti-vaxxers so far includes Labor Senator Malarandirri McCarthy, Mr Yan and the entire CLP wing, with no evidence to back up his claims and in the face of facts that disprove his assertions.