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Truth, Politics, and "Freedom" Rallies

A couple of times in the past I've written on the topic of "lying in politics". Influenced by Hannah Arendt's essay with regards to Vietnam, more than ten years ago I found it interesting to do a comparison with the Iraq war. More recently, I took a hard look at Matthew Guy's comments about crime rates in Victoria. One thing that particularly irks me is that in political campaigning there is no requirement for the equivalent of "truth in advertising", a matter that I noted in some detail over the last Australian Federal election in Australia. One could suggest it is a continuing interest that I have; and given that the laws for political advertising have not been changed, I suspect that there will be an avalanche of bullshit in the next election.

A small example of this is the recent "Freedom" rallies held across Australia. The Rod Culleton Great Australia Party claimed that was between 350K and 500K people in attendance in Melbourne, 150K and 200K in Sydney and so forth. Naturally enough, this has been shared many times by people who wish that there was such numbers supporting their cause. Of course, they haven't bothered to make any attempt to check what the values were. The Age claims that "Aerial footage showed there was upwards of 10,000 people at the anti-government protest, which began at State Parliament." How do they know? Because we know how big crowds and there's even handy visual guides. Michigan stadium makes a good example; when filled to capacity it's 100K, and there's plenty of photographs of that location.

There's much more than could be said on this and related matters. There are those who think that the coronavirus vaccination numbers have been made up, a conspiracy that would require over 5000 GP clinics in Australia to be complicit. Or that case numbers and fatalities are likewise doctored (pardon the pun). Or that vaccine mandates in places of employment or partial quarantine of the unvaccinated are somehow a novel form of "medical apartheid". Of course, it is possible to provide all the facts about such matters, but the difficulty is that some people will only accept expressions with which they already agree. With an astounding lack of consideration for others, it is easy for demagogues on the far-right of politics to harness the frustrated energy of those who want freedom without responsibility, who consider the necessary inconveniences of keeping other people safe in a pandemic as "oppression". If SARS-Cov-2 only affected the wilfully unvaccinated, this certainly would be a case of "my body, my choice". But it affects other people as well and vaccine passports exist for the same reason that we prohibit drunk driving. Nobody has the right to be that sort of danger to others.

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The rallies held around Australia yesterday heard from four politicians who claim to be standing up for ordinary Australians. So who are these self appointed leaders of the movement? Can they be trusted? See a short bio for each of them below:
Clive Palmer (Speaker at Brisbane Rally)
Former member of the Nationals and Liberal National Coalition. Palmer owns a range of companies including Mineralogy, Waratah Coal and Queensland Nickel. In 2016, Queensland Nickel entered voluntary administration. Palmer declined to pay the entitlements of 546 workers who lost their jobs. Palmer is currently facing charges of fraud by dishonesty for transferring $12 million from his mining company Mineralogy to his own political party. (Palmer United Party now United Australia Party).
Craig Kelly (Speaker at Sydney Rally)
Once a furniture importer and Liberal MP, his family’s company DV Kelly Pty Ltd was given wind-up orders in 2012 with $4 million still owing to employees and creditors. The administrators report stated Kelly may have been a de facto director of the company while trading insolvent. He denied the claims even though Kelly had signed himself as a director of the company on a number of documents related to a court case in New Zealand. On 23 August 2021 Kelly joined and was appointed leader of Clive Palmer's United Australia Party.
Rod Culleton (Promoted and attended Perth Rally)
A former member of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party. In 2013 the bank foreclosed on Culleton’s farm saying he owed more than $4 million. Culleton was charged with larceny (theft of property) in 2015. He was declared bankrupt in 2016. Was declared ineligible for election to the Senate due to a criminal matter in 2017. 2018 he set up his own political party the Great Australia Party.
Riccardo Bosi (Speaker at Sydney Rally)
A far right, ex military, motivational speaker and opponent of 5G towers. He described himself yesterday to the crowd by saying “I’m a praise the lord and pass the ammunition kind of Christian.” Bosi unsuccessfully ran as a NSW Senate candidate for Senator Cory Bernardi's de-registered Australian Conservatives Party. He is currently facing charges for allegedly breaching SA's health directions. Now he has set up his own party called the Australia One Party.