The Australian’s blockbuster report linking Melbourne’s Black Lives Matter rally to a cluster of coronavirus infections in public housing towers was shared extensively in far-right Facebook groups, despite state health authorities disputing its central claim.
On Wednesday, The Australian published an article linking the June 6 rally to infections in the North Melbourne and Flemington public housing complexes, which were placed under strict lockdown conditions on July 2.
But in a statement provided to PEDESTRIAN.TV, a Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) spokesperson reiterated there’s “no evidence” to suggest any of the six protesters who eventually tested positive for coronavirus picked it up at the rally.
That’s not the only leap of faith required to make sense of The Australian’s report, either. You can read about the article itself here.
Doubts about the article’s tenuous claim didn’t seem to matter, though. The piece was hailed as slam-dunk proof that protestors spread and contracted the virus, despite state and federal health officials refusing to call the protest the origin of Victoria’s resurgent case numbers.
The Australian’s Facebook post was shared by users at least 192 times. It made its way into groups including ‘I’ll Stand By Tony Abbott‘, ‘Daniel Andrews Must Go’, and ‘Westernophobic registery Australia’, a group which claims to highlight “all things we feel are an attack on our countries life style (sic).”
Another post, which highlighted The Australian’s follow-up article BLM numbers worse than feared, was shared in groups like ‘Australian Conservative News Network’ and ‘Reclaim Australia Rally – Western Australia’.
You know, Reclaim Australia, that protest movement which birthed the United Patriots Front crew.
The Australian’s claims were also boosted by a more mainstream brand of Australian racism. ‘Pauline Hanson’s Please Explain’, the Facebook mouthpiece of breakfast television’s favourite senator, shared a Sky News segment on the report.
That video was shared in excess of 2,000 times.
Victoria today tallied 317 new COVID-19 infections, and two further deaths linked to the virus.
The metropolitan Melbourne area is grinding into its second week of lockdowns, and Premier Daniel Andrews has warned that further restrictions are on the cards should the virus spread further.
There appears to be little punishment for spreading dicey reports about a protest against Indigenous deaths in custody, though.