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Sunshine Coast Businesses gather against Covid Mandates

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Last night on the Sunshine Coast the biggest gathering of local business owners in recent history took place. With 1100 in attendance representing over 650 Sunshine coast businesses, spread over two venues, another 700 people on video conferencing and hundreds more watching through the AFIPN live stream broadcast. The event almost didn’t happen as organisers struggled to find a suitable venue, but at the eleventh hour The Newlife Church at Woombye answered the call and the meeting was a screaming success. 

So what was it all about? As a result of the announcement by Queensland governments “public health” directives set to take effect on the 15th of December, Business owners are afraid of the damage these new changes will impose, already seeing hardship and profit losses due to covid 19 restrictions and lockdowns. 

The event was organised by Sunshine Coast Businesses Unite, a group created by concerned residents, parents, and business owners. This group put together the event to educate and empower business owners with correct information and resources to enable them to stand up for themselves against these unreasonable and inconsistent mandates imposed on them, their staff, and customers.  

After talking to an array of local businesses, a common theme that Chief organiser Janelle Adams noted was increased mental illness due to threats to the communities businesses and livelihoods. She said “they are burning the candle at both ends with nothing left to give, and so they are here tonight for some hope and some answers.” 

Local interior designer Barby Payton of Onyx studio said that she was here because she “wants to support like-minded businesses who do not want to discriminate, who believe in equality and for some clarification”. Commenting on the state of her business, she said ” there is a lot of uncertainty within the industry with people not wanting to either commit to their dream business because they are afraid of what’s going to happen.”

Throughout the night the focus was primarily on the ramifications these new mandates impose on the health and wellness industry. Already some businesses are having to close their doors or turn away bookings for their patients as they are unsure whether they can continue operating past the 15th. This comes after hospitals across the coast have seen hundreds of staff lose their jobs because they choose not to take the injection. With the Sunshine Coast being a well-known hub nationwide for alternative health, these business owners do not wish to enforce or take an experimental medical procedure that goes against everything they stand for.  

Various barristers spoke about the tricky wording used by the Qld Government, and the general consensus was that these mandates are an overreach of government powers and not consistent with state and national laws and regulations. Also speaking was many nurses and doctors who shared their stories, confusion, and heartache. Federal LNP Member for Fairfax on the coast Ted O’Brien appeared briefly via zoom, his support for the event and for freedom of choice was well received, although many of his other comments were met with mixed reactions from the crowd.

One key speaker Federal Senator Gerrard Rennick spoke via Zoom. Mr Rennick who has recently come under fire for taking an unpopular position within government ranks spoke about the need for government to step in and uphold their obligation to protect the interests of the people instead of their self-interests, acknowledging the deceptive language used by the government in stating that the “vaccines are safe and effective”. Mr Rennick sympathised with local business owners for the suffering at the hands of the government throughout the pandemic, also mentioning that businesses are liable for workers potential vaccine injuries. He spoke candidly criticizing the government’s decision to vaccinate children as young as 5 years old. 

But the highlight of the night was when local Sunshine coast councillor Joe Natoli took to the stage. Joe who has been on the other side as a business owner, who knows the heartache of having gone out of business was visibly moved by the outcry of the Sunshine Coast people. Having also grown up as an Italian boy in a typical Australian community, he has experienced segregation first-hand. Holding back tears Mr Natoli said that he had received over 1400 emails from local citizens pouring out their hearts. He has been there himself and emotionally stated that what happened to him that he “would not wish that upon anyone.” The room went completely silent as he touched everyone in the building with his words. 

 Mr Natoli has decided enough is enough and has put a notice of motion to the council, outlining the negative impacts of the planned mandates, in the footsteps of the Livingstone Shire Council in the northern Queensland town of Yeppoon recently. His motion is set to be presented to the council in Caloundra tomorrow the 9th of December. Mr Natoli asked for as much support as possible to attend and pleaded that we keep the proceedings peaceful and respectful. 

One of the last speakers for the night were Coolum cafe owners Sarah and Ben parsons from New Earth Cafe who were in the spotlight earlier in the year for standing in their power against mask mandates, for which they and their staff had exemptions for that were unjustly not recognised by Qld police. Mrs Parson spoke about their ordeal which had her handcuffed and held in custody for 4 hours by Queensland Police. A staff member was also arrested on another occasion by Qld police officers. Last Thursday after months of harassment, they received word from their lawyer that all charges had been dropped. Proving that resilience and standing firm can be successful. Mrs Parsons gave credence to common sentiments around the coast that health food businesses were being targeted by authorities. Before leaving the stage Mr and Mrs Parsons both asked the community “to unite and continue to show kindness and compassion no matter what choices we make for ourselves.” 

Mrs Parsons went on to say these powerful words to round out the night, “We need to accept and respect each other, and that’s what we’re all about. On the Sunshine Coast, I am hopeful that we will unite and stand together, for our freedom and freedom of choice. I am hopeful on the Sunshine Coast that as businesses we will choose not to mandate or discriminate. I am hopeful that we will treat all people equally, and I am hopeful that sunshine businesses will not segregate and not consent to create a two-tiered society. freedom is our birthright.”

For more information, you can find the event organisers on Facebook, go to www.scbusinessunite.com.au or the Fair Business Australia Facebook group. 

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