Vax avoidance: why Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese face the same problem

Vax avoidance: why Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese face the same problem. By Chris Mitchell.

Some issues should be beyond the media’s culture wars: vaccination for one. Yet some journalists of the left use the issue to express open hostility to the politics of ordinary Australians …

The truth is Australians are much smarter than reporters think. …

The origins of the anti-vax movement here are not on the right, even if right-wing populists such as Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, its Sydney federal member Craig Kelly and One Nation’s Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts are keen to harvest the support of vaccine hesitant voters at the upcoming federal election.

Historically, the home of the anti-vax movement has been the hippy playground around Byron Bay, in northern NSW. Its voters have been more likely to support the Greens than conservative independents.

The anti-vax peak body, the Australian Vaccination-risks Network, based in Bangalow, in Byron Shire, even quotes approvingly the words of Greens political founder and pro-vaccine GP Bob Brown from the Senate in 1997: “There is very much contradictory evidence and debate, even in scientific and medical circles, about vaccination.”

While some reporters are just youthful dupes, older political journalists on the left know what’s going on: Labor premiers and the federal Opposition are desperate to destroy the government’s standing with swinging voters over the handling of the pandemic and vaccination rollout. It’s why the ABC and Guardian have sounded like the “#I Stand With Dan” Twitter crowd through Victoria’s six lockdowns.

Now that the vaccine rollout is a success, Labor aims to splinter the conservative vote by making it seem Morrison is playing footsies with the anti-vax crowd. You won’t find too many stories in the left media about how dangerous the Greens-Left Age of Aquarius anti-vax movement is for the Labor base. Or much focus on the union movement’s opposition to vaccine mandates.

Both sides have the same problem. Morrison needs to ensure he gets as many preferences as possible from populists on the right while Labor leader Anthony Albanese can’t say too much about left-wing anti-vaxxers because he needs Greens preferences. …

As Dr Coatsworth, now an infectious diseases expert at Canberra Hospital and a senior lecturer in medicine at the ANU, told this column last week: “Not everyone demonstrating against lockdowns is a right-wing anti-vaxxer. Every time I hear that I get more disenchanted with the progressive left. It’s classic them and us.”