NEWCASTLE barrister Bill Hussey stood at a rally against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Foreshore Park on Saturday and joked, in his usual husky voice, that he "had the 'rona again", saying he was there to spread it "en masse". "You thought you were coming to a protest but you're coming to a 'rona party so you can all get it," Mr Hussey, an experienced criminal lawyer, said to cheers and whistles from the crowd.
At the rally, the tongue-in-cheek comments seemed to have been taken the way they were intended, but when the video was shared online there were those who were outraged and called for him to be fined. Mr Hussey cleared it up on Sunday, telling the Newcastle Herald he was joking and had never had coronavirus.
But he wasn't kidding about what he told the 4000-strong crowd next; that he was running for the federal seat of Newcastle as a member of the Informed Medical Opinions Party.
"I feel there is a lack of debate about issues generally now in Australia," Mr Hussey told the Herald. "I take a view that the Labor-Liberal two party system is no longer functioning well for Australians and I think it is time we had other voices in politics besides those two parties. I just want to see more discussions about things generally, not just vaccinations, also how the country is being run, defence issues."
And, despite his presence at the Reclaim the Line protest, one of many across the country on Saturday, Mr Hussey is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and does not consider himself "anti-vaccine".
"I think that if people want to get vaccinated then go for it," Mr Hussey told the Herald. "I am not against people choosing what medical path they want to take. But I do query the current seemingly strong hatred towards people who don't want to get vaccinated. I think it is a personal decision rather than something that the government should have to say. "I am not against vaccines as I say, but I do have a question about whether every vaccine works for every person because I have personally met people who say their children have suffered deficits after having a vaccine and all I'm saying is I just think that is worth looking at."
Saturday's Reclaim the Line rally was to protest against COVID vaccines for kids, with organisers claiming they needed to take a stand due to "adverse reactions to the jabs" and because their children are "not lab rats".
Newcastle State MP Tim Crakanthorp said 95 per cent of NSW adults had received the COVID-19 vaccine and the number of children "rolling up their sleeves" was growing.
"Thank you to all who have taken the advice of public health experts, rather than jumping on Facebook and calling it 'research'.
While Newcastle Federal MP Sharon Claydon said people were more concerned about the government's vaccine rollout and testing scheme that she said was plagued by supply issues.
Police said there were about 4000 people at the rally and those attending were "100 per cent compliant".
Protestors conducted an organised march along Wharf Road, which exacerbated the already busy traffic conditions in the city, according to bystanders.
Hunter New England Health's public health controller Dr David Durrheim reassured parents that vaccinating children aged five to 11 for the virus was safe and effective.
"The vaccine is safe but the disease can have horrible outcomes," Dr Durheim said.
"The vaccine never gets into your DNA and it is literally broken down within days at the site of injection.
"So it is really implausible that this will have any long term effects because it doesn't hang around in the body. It is really only using our cells' own machinery to generate our own immune response to protect us and our children against the virus."
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