Transcript - Mix 104.9 FM - Antivax Protests at the Cenotaph

02 December 2021

DARWIN - 2 December 2021

KATIE WOOLF, HOST: One of the other things that we've been speaking about since yesterday, we caught up with Sam Weston, he's a digger, and he is also the owner of the Mad Snake Cafe. And he'd spoken to us about the online trolling, which he'd been subjected to after voicing his opinion on his own page on social media about the use of the Cenotaph on the weekend through that [anti-vaccination mandate] rally and also the playing of the Last Post. Now, if anybody has the right to actually voice their opinion about those two things, it is somebody who's served overseas and has served our great country. Here's a listen to what Sam had to say on the show yesterday:
AUDIO - SAM WESTON - VETERAN: “I've got a lot of abusive text message, comments, to people jumping on and giving negative reviews for my cafe from people who’ve never come in here. [INAUDIBLE] I thought playing the Last Post at the Cenotaph was disrespectful. [INAUDIBLE].”
WOOLF: I’m not sure what's going on with that audio there, I do apologise. We're having a bit of a tech difficulty, but joining me on the line to talk a little bit more about this situation, it is the Member for Solomon, Luke Gosling. Good morning to you, Luke.

WOOLF: Luke, you too have served our great country and I know that you know Sam, what was your reaction to him being trolled online after voicing his opinion about the rally, including playing the Last Post and also using the Cenotaph?
GOSLING: Well, firstly, I was very proud of Sam for using his voice and representing the concerns of so many veterans to say what he said. And obviously it's an issue that has stirred up a lot of passion in a lot of people. I was having a look at some of the comments on the NT News site and there were a lot of people coming out in support of Sam. And I think that's good, because it hit a nerve with a lot of people and it's something that really sits uncomfortably. One of the things that I was particularly disappointed about is the use of some of the Nazi imagery on some of the signage that were there as well. And I guess one thing I wanted to say is that I know that not everyone who was at that protest is a far right extremist, of course, and they don't want to be associated with any Nazi imagery or white supremacy stuff at all. That's just not them. But unfortunately, I think there is a small element that join themselves into these protests and use that, and that has actually spurred an anti-Semitic rant on Facebook by someone who should not be doing that at all. And of course, that is a concern. It is a big concern that there's this hijacking of the concerns of Territorians on one issue to try and subvert it. So I thought it was important to call that out.
WOOLF: Yeah, I reckon you make a really good point there, because you know, there are people who've been in contact with us here at the station as well to voice their opinions in a really respectful way. But I think that then that gets entirely lost when you are rallying in a respectful way, when there's others who are part of that group who are then doing things in an entirely disrespectful way.
GOSLING: Yeah, we've seen it down south as well. And of course, Territorians, I've been impressed up to this point by the way that the majority of those that have protested used their right to have a peaceful process. And it has been peaceful. It’s just this really ugly element with the use of swastikas and images of Hitler. Like, there's no place at all in this current debate for the use of that sort of imagery. Particularly when you consider that there's names of Territorians up on the walls of the Cenotaph who were killed actually fighting that regime. So really disrespectful and people should, rather than having a go at Sam, just have a listen to what he was saying, which is a very calm and sensible approach, just to use his voice. But there's so many other people out there that feel exactly the same, that the Cenotaph needs to be respected and those that are on the walls need to be respected as well.
WOOLF: Yeah, look, and we had a lot of support for Sam yesterday on the show. So many people getting in contact with us to say that, they were totally behind him. They support him and think that what he did was really brave. And they agree with what he said and with his sentiment. And I think it's important that he knows that. And lots of people asking where his cafe is as well, Luke, to try and get down there and support him in person, which I think is a good thing to do.
GOSLING: It’s the best little cafe.
WOOLF: I do want to ask you, we know it today is not only the last day of parliamentary sitting here in the Northern Territory, but it's also the last day of parliamentary sittings federally for the year. And there were plans to introduce this voter ID law, which was spoken about on the show. Damian Hale and Dave Tollner having a fairly spirited debate about it earlier in the week. But what's ended up happening? I understand that it hasn't gone through.
GOSLING: In fact, it didn't even come up for debate, Katie, because, well, quite frankly, it wasn't going to pass. It wasn't just Labor, there was a lot of independents and minor parties that just saw how stupid it was. It was something that wasn't fixing a problem. Like there's 18 million voters in Australia. In the last election, there were only 2,000 people that voted twice and there were no prosecutions. So you know what I mean? It's not an issue of people who are double-voting. Overwhelmingly, it was senior Australians where maybe one of the kids or grandkids who picked up nan or pop to go and vote, and then someone else picked them up, you know, later on or a couple of days later to vote and they forgot they’d been. So it was mistaken double voting, it wasn't an issue. But the problem is, is that on estimate there’s thousands of Australians who, you know, are living very different to what maybe the majority of Australians are and don't have readily accessible ID. And we just didn't want a situation where they wouldn't be able to have their say. And the majority of parliamentarians from different sides of politics down here agree with that. And the Government did the sensible thing and withdrew that legislation.
WOOLF: I know it's a point that some people have been making, and I entirely get it is that, you know, you need an ID for most things. Would it really be that hard to show your ID when you go to vote?

GOSLING: A lot of people have said that, but the reality is that anyone who's working in communities would know that there's some people who just don't get around with a wallet full of lots of various forms of ID, would never have never been overseas, don't have a passport, may not get a bill in their name. So what the difficulty is, is that the message that it sends to people is that you can't vote regardless of what measures the Government was saying were going to be put into place. The reality is that they wouldn't have even been time to do the training that was required for the 100,000 AEC staff ready for an election that's happening early next year. And it was going to slow things down in a time of COVID on voting day, so people were going to be waiting in queues to vote for twice as long with those changes that they proposed, when not one person got prosecuted from the last election for voting twice. In fact, the Government's changes with ID weren't even going to prevent someone from voting twice. So it wasn't a good idea, and the Government had decided that as well.
WOOLF: Well, Luke, we are going to have to get ready to wrap up. Anything else exciting or interesting happening in that last day of Parliament today that we should be aware of? Is it going to be the last day of parliamentary sittings before an election is called, do you think?
GOSLING: I don't think so. I think we'll come back in February for three days or so, and I think then he might call it for a March election. So there are other people who think it might be May. But one thing is interesting yesterday is that Christian Porter, the former Attorney-General, that your listeners would have heard lots about. He is not re-contesting and also the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is not re-contesting and there is lots happening down here at the moment. So there's a bit of a sense of quite a few people in the Government are jumping ship. What that means for the Prime Minister's decisions about when to call the election, I'm not sure, but whenever it is, let's bring it on and see what the plans are for the Territory.
WOOLF: Well, we will be keeping a close eye on things. Luke Gosling, the Member for Solomon, thanks very much for your time this morning.
GOSLING: Thank you, Katie.