While anti-maskers and ‘COVID disbelievers’ marched around virus-stricken Melbourne on Monday, cystic fibrosis sufferer Alex Parker was waking to her 140th day of strict isolation.
The 31-year-old photographer has been housebound with husband Mike and their three-year-old daughter Ruby in Beaconsfield since March 9, when the couple locked themselves in to shelter Alex from the deadly respiratory disease.
But 16km away in Cranbourne, a group of coronavirus deniers who believe the illness is a government hoax have been meeting in a cramped gym to plan how to resist police enforcement of the city’s mandatory mask rule, implemented on Thursday.
Commercial photographer Alex Parker, 31, with her three-year-old daughter Ruby in isolation at their home in Beaconsfield, southeast of Melbourne’s CBD; the family have been housebound since March 9 due to Alex’s cystic fibrosis which puts her at risk of COVID-19
A group of anti-mask COVID disbelievers at a gym in the locked-down suburb of Cranbourne, discussing how to resist police enforcement of Melbourne’s mandatory mask rule
Alex, who expects to be in self-imposed lockdown until 2021, told Daily Mail Australia she has been living a ‘rollercoaster of emotion’ and feels frustrated by the flouting of social distancing and the new mask law.
The first lockdown felt like we were all in it together. It doesn’t feel like that anymore.
‘I can’t live in a bubble forever. I know there will come a point where I just have to go back out, so I’m relying on other people to do the right thing and I think it’s just selfish,’ she said.
Alex is one of 3,500 Australians who live with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that causes cells to produce a thick, sticky mucus that severely damages the lungs and digestive system, making it difficult to breathe.
Their weakened lung function puts people with cystic fibrosis among those most vulnerable to coronavirus infection.
Inside Melbourne’s anti-mask cult meeting
– COVID deniers meet Saturdays at 6pm in a gym in locked-down Cranbourne to discuss what one attendee described as ‘the putrid conduct of police, government and media’
– Group ignores social distancing and limits on gatherings
– One attendee praised conspiracy theorist Eve Black, who was widely condemned for refusing to provide her details to officers as she left a coronavirus hotspot
– It’s understood the group are part of broader movement of ‘sovereign citizens’ sing the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act to challenge police powers
Alex Parker with husband Mike and Ruby in 2019, long before social distancing and mandatory masks were part of daily vocabulary
‘People get bored with all the COVID stuff and say they’re over it, but we don’t get over our chronic illnesses. That’s us for life,’ said Alex, who shot her last photoshoot at the end of February.
Carpenter Mike downed tools one week later.
The couple have been relying on government-funded JobKeeper payments ever since, buying little except the groceries they have delivered each week.
‘We’re okay but it’s obviously significantly lower income than what we’d be making normally,’ she said.
‘We were paying off a mortgage and all that good groundwork we had made is at a standstill. It’s all a bit like Groundhog Day.’
They haven’t seen friends or family in over four months, save for Alex’s mother Karen who locked herself in quarantine for two weeks and underwent a COVID-19 test so she could visit.
They only leave the house for a short walk around the block, always wearing masks – Ruby included.
Ruby blows kisses from the front window, oblivious to the cause of such unprecedented playtime with mum and dad
Alex and Ruby play at the beach before the virus crisis upended life as they knew it
Despite the constraints of confinement, the devoted parents have been doing their utmost to make cherished memories with their little girl.
Ruby celebrated her third birthday in isolation and days are spent baking with her grandmother on Zoom, FaceTiming with friends and making arts and crafts with mum and dad.
‘We’re putting a lot of energy into making sure it’s a good time for her, because that’s all that we can control,’ said Alex.
Mike and Ruby play in a teepee in the backyard (left) and Ruby is swept up in the arms of her grandmother Mimi (right) who put herself in quarantine for two weeks so she could visit
Ruby celebrates her third birthday in lockdown, chatting to friends and cousins on Zoom
In it together: Mike, Ruby and Alex don masks for their daily walk around the block
What they can’t control is the congregation of more than 50 people who reportedly meet in the locked-down suburb of Cranbourne every Saturday at 6pm in defiance of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ orders.
During the meetings, which appear to have been going ahead despite soaring COVID-19 cases in Victoria and mounting deaths, photos show the group ignore social distancing policies and gathering limits.
Ordained pagan exorcist Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Rose has also been leading a legion of anti-maskers around Melbourne shops, blocking aisles and refusing to wear face-coverings as the state recorded 532 overnight – Australia’s highest daily toll ever.
Ruby bakes with her grandmother over Zoom, the family’s only link to the outside world
Mike and Ruby hard at work making arts and crafts, one of their favourite isolation activities
Cystic fibrosis explained
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that affects how cells produce mucus and sweat, causing severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs of the body.
Alex is one of just 3,500 Australians who live with CF, according to statistics from Victoria’s Better Health database.
People with CF have a defective gene that causes bodily fluids to become thick and sticky. Instead of acting as lubricants, as they should, the fluids block airways, ducts and passageways, most severely in the lungs and pancreas.
CF is incurable and progressive, meaning it worsens with age. It requires daily care, but patients are still able to work and enjoy fulfilling lives.
Improvements in screening and treatment means people with CF now have a dramatically higher quality of life than they did in previous decades. Most cystic fibrosis sufferers now live into their late 30s and 40s, with some living well into their 50s.
Based on 2018 figures from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the life expectancy of people with CF born between 2014 and 2018 is predicted to be 44 years.
Source: Better Health Victoria
The birth of the ‘anti-mask movement’ has made Alex feel more helpless than ever before.
‘There’s nothing I can do that I’m not already doing. I feel lucky to have a nice home and the security of my family, but it makes me feel even more vulnerable,’ she said.
Alex said she is proud to live in a country that has prioritised the elderly and sick over the economy at government level, but feels public opinion has changed since the outbreak began.
‘The first lockdown felt like we were all in it together. It doesn’t feel like that anymore,’ she said.
‘It’s a marathon not a sprint, I’d just like people to remember that.’
Inside the anti-mask ‘cult’ which packed into a Melbourne gym to spread conspiracy theories – as the pathetic manifesto they use to taunt police trying to enforce coronavirus lockdown is revealed
By Brittany Chain
A group of anti-maskers who believe coronavirus is a government hoax have started meeting together in a cramped Melbourne gym to discuss how to resist ‘putrid police’ trying to enforce the law.
Every Saturday at 6pm, upwards of 50 people reportedly meet in the locked-down suburb of Cranbourne to discuss what one attendee described as ‘the putrid conduct of police, government and media lies’.
During the meetings, which appear to have been going ahead despite soaring COVID-19 cases in Victoria and mounting deaths, photos show the group ignore social distancing policies and gathering limits.
‘We are strong and won’t bow to these oppressors,’ Nick Patterson, who attended the meeting, said on Sunday, as the state recorded a further 459 new coronavirus cases and 10 deaths.
He also praised Eve Black, who was widely condemned for refusing to provide her details to officers as she left a coronavirus hotspot while she read from a script being passed around conspiracy theory groups.
‘Thank you for sharing your experience with us and how media created a work of fiction with their slanderous narrative to demonise you, a true libertarian. God bless the righteous and give them power to prevail,’ he said.
Black replied: ‘Thank you for having me there. It was so amazing to be in a room full of people who support and celebrate me during this tough time.’
It’s understood the group are part of a broader movement of ‘sovereign citizens’ who use the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act to challenge police powers, and share cheat sheets on social media they believe can allow them to avoid being fined for breaching lockdown restrictions.
Every Saturday at 6pm, upwards of 50 people reportedly meet in the locked down suburb of Cranbourne in a cramped gym to discuss what one attendee described as ‘the putrid conduct of the police, government and media lies’
Eve Black, from Melbourne, shared footage on Thursday of herself driving past an officer at a COVID-19 police barricade
The script urges followers to warn officers of a ‘schedule of fees’ when they ‘unlawfully detain or stop’ the driver
Ms Black said she would be contesting any infringement notices she receives following the stunt, bizarrely claiming on Saturday that a person must ‘consent to legislation’.
‘Technically, you must consent to legislation. However even still, they can not arrest you for an offence such as speeding,’ she wrongly claimed on social media.
She referenced the use of the ‘strawman’ argument for refusing a fine – the belief system that a person is two separate entities; their physical being and their separate legal persona.
The widely-disputed idea is that a person’s legal responsibilities, including debts and taxes, belong to the strawman rather than the physical individual.
‘I will not fail. I have a strong backing of people who know this through and through,’ Ms Black said.
Legal experts previously told Daily Mail Australia that police had the right to request details from drivers, and said officers had been given additional COVID-related powers under Victoria’s State of Emergency.
A source said seeing multiple people who are not lawyers citing High Court rulings and legislation immediately raised red flags and suggested they were likely simply regurgitating information they’d heard elsewhere.
Police stop and question drivers at a checkpoint on July 8, 2020 in Albury near the NSW-Victoria border
It comes as an ordained pagan exorcist was identified as the leader of an army of ‘Bunnings Karens’ who are filming themselves arguing with vexed shop keepers across COVID-plagued Melbourne.
Psychic Elizabeth ‘Lizzy’ Rose is a self proclaimed high priestess witch who performs exorcisms for a living when not disrupting shopping aisles.
Ms Rose has emerged as one of the leaders of a group of Melburnians that have come to police attention since mandatory mask wearing laws were implemented last Thursday.
The group of troublemakers are all believed to be members of ‘The Illuminating Army’ – a group of like-minded conspiracy theorists that believe COVID-19 is a scam and 5G networks are the work of the devil.
Ms Rose, who has been contacted by Daily Mail Australia, claims to be the leader of the army.
In videos of the exorcist posted on both her own Facebook page and that of the ‘army’, Ms Rose declares she will continue to travel through up to five Melbourne suburbs a day without wearing a mask.
Lizzy Rose hams it up while dressed as a Viking Queen. She had been trying to get items for a Viking fire pit when she ran into trouble at her local Bunnings
This graph shows how the state’s second wave has not been kept under control even with lockdown
Footage has surfaced of several people throughout Melbourne similarly threatening cops at border checkpoints as they enforce Daniel Andrews’ lockdown orders to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The conversations all follow the same general pattern – the driver refuses to provide personal details or cooperate with authorities, arguing that they are simply exercising their rights and that they would be willing to go to the High Court.
Now, the exact script they appear to be following has been revealed, as well as the manifesto behind their arguments.
The script is circulating among the sovereign citizen community, and has been shared within 5G wellness conspiracy theory Facebook channels.
It urges followers to warn officers of a ‘schedule of fees’ when they ‘unlawfully detain or stop’ the driver.
These fees include an initial $50,000 engagement fee, followed by $200 per minute for the entirety of the conversation.
Any threat made by an officer would add an additional $2,000 to the fine, while issuing an infringement notice comes with a $5,000 fee and a warrant is $10,000.
Drivers are also encouraged to demand the officers’ name, position and station in writing – and insist another officer arrests them if they fail to provide the details immediately.
The manifesto also urges followers to question the legitimacy of coronavirus and the powers of the government to impose restrictions.
Script and manifesto anti-mask cult uses to ignore cops
What does the script say?
The script spells out in great detail, step by step, what to say if they are pulled over while driving – such as at a border crossing or checkpoint in and out of Melbourne.
Followers are told to never wind their window down more than three inches – just enough to talk to police (who it refers to as ’employees of private Vatican-owned corporation’) and hand them documents.
Instead of answering any of the reasonable questions police will ask them, like where they are going to to provide details, they ask a series of questions from the list over and over until they get an answer.
The first three questions ask if they have disturbed the peace, have committed a crime, or are under arrest.
When the officers say they are not under arrest, the script says to reply: ‘As I have not committed a crime, nor am I under arrest, therefore I am free to go. Have a nice day.’
Police will then say they are not free to go, as their question won’t be over, which the script has predicted.
‘This now changes the game completely as they are now acting unlawfully and require your consent. Now we bait the trap to gather evidence,’ it reads.
The questions get increasingly bizarre from this point, beginning with ‘did you take an oath to uphold the law?’ and ‘do you agree I am a living man/woman?’
A policeman in Queensland had a snappy retort to this line of questioning, telling a truck driver who tried this script at the border ‘it’s 2020, what do you identify as?’
From here the script moves into the strange belief that police forces are private corporations, asking if the officer is acting as an employee of ‘the capital lettered private corporation VICTORIA POLICE’.
Officers will inevitably say yes, which the group believes is enough to let them state: ‘I decline to do business with your corporation and I object to your attempt to coerce a contract’.
Part of their whole theory is that laws can only be enforced with the ‘consent’ of citizens and police are merely trying to enforce a ‘contract’ followers don’t consider themselves a party to.
This is why members of this group often say ‘I do not consent’ in response to lockdowns and mask wearing directives.
The next step is to ask for the officer’s name, rank, and police station. If they don’t do so immediately, the script says to get another officer to come over and arrest their colleague under Crimes Act 1958 Section 456 AA subsections (4) and (5).
This is actually accurate in that an officer does have to provide this information or face a fine, but neglects to mention the citizen also has to give their name and address if police ask them.
The script then says to demand, in verbose language, that the officers provide them with written proof that they are able to detain them ‘when I have not disturbed the peace, nor committed a crime’.
Not wearing a mask, failing to provide details at a border checkpoint or traffic stop, and so on are usually just on-the-spot fines, but are technically crimes – meaning this is an invalid argument.
Regardless of this nonsense, the script says to inform the officers they are unlawfully detaining them and claim that because the officers have weapons they are supposedly committing aggravated armed kidnapping.
The follower is then to hand the police a ‘Schedule of Fees for Unlawful Stop and/or Detention’ that claims they are owed $50,000 plus $200 for every minute they are ‘detained’.
There are various escalators this document claims on top of that, ranging from $2,000 for threat of arrest or being handcuffed, to $50,000 for being hauled before court and $100,000 per day behind bars.
An ‘invoice’ for all this accrues three per cent interest per day and is bizarrely supposed to be paid in the equivalent value of sterling silver rather than actual money.
This document was concocted by someone referring to himself as ‘Apollo, Galactic Emissary also known as the living being John Robert, of the family Smith’.
It claims followers are ‘not a citizen, nor an alien’, do not consent to police authority, and ‘rebut any and all presumptions of law’.
But this is not the end of the script by a longshot. Next it describes what to do if they are asked to provide a driver’s license – ask the officer to define to word ‘driver’.
‘A driver actual is a person employed to drive for the purposes of transfer of goods or people. You are a traveller, travelling,’ it claims with maddening and nonsensical pedantry.
Advice about what to do in other situations, such as being threatened with arrest for refusing to provide their details, is fairly repetitive and follows the same line as above.
If the driver is asked to get out of the car, they are to say they don’t feel safe doing so as the police are armed and supposedly have no authority (in their eyes).
The driver is only to get out of the car if police repeatedly say they will use force to remove them.
‘As you have clearly stated you intend to use force to unlawfully remove me from my car, and, as you are armed and I have seen many video clips of police shooting dead people in cars, therefore I feel threatened for my mortal life and am now under extreme duress, therefore I surrender hor (sic) de combat,’ the script reads.
Hors de combat is a term used in international law to describe military personnel who are unable to fight, such as if they are sick or have crashed their fighter jet, and are granted special protections under the rules of war.
The script says at this point they are to say nothing, go with the officers peacefully, and keep track of how long they were detained so they can ‘invoice’ them later.
The script also contains a list of coronavirus-specific questions, including demanding scientific proof it is an infectious virus and whether whoever issued the directive they are disputing has the authority to do so.
What legal basis does this group claim to have?
The group claims state police laws are invalid because the Australian Constitution states that state laws are overridden by federal ones and, in particular, common law.
They claim pulling someone over and asking them questions without suspicion they committed a crime – such as a random breath test – are inconsistent with common law.
A document written by Mike Holt, which followers are told to print out and hand to police, cherry-picks three cases they claim backs up this position.
The first is Northern Territory Supreme Court case Regina v Banner (1970) that ruled police have ‘no power whatever to arrest or detain a citizen for the purpose of questioning him or of facilitating their investigations’.
‘If the police do so act in purported exercise of such a power, their conduct is not only destructive of civil liberties but it is unlawful.’
The second was a controversial ruling by the Victorian Supreme Court in 2011 that cleared a man of any wrongdoing for running away when police tried to question him about an unpaid restuarant bill.
Andrew Hamilton allegedly fled a Taco Bill in Melbourne after an argument over a $136 bill.
Justice Stephen Kaye noted that police had the right to ask for a person’s details if they were suspected of committing a crime and the person must answer.
However, Mr Hamilton ran off before officers had the chance to do so and therefore hadn’t committed any offence.
‘It is an ancient principle of the Common Law that a person not under arrest has no obligation to stop for police or answer their questions. And there is no statute that removes that right,’ Justice Kaye said.
‘(The Crimes Act) does not contain any provision which expressly empowers police to detain a suspect, or take a suspect into custody, for the purposes of questioning the suspect.
‘The conferring of such a power on a police officer would be a substantial detraction from the fundamental freedoms which have been guaranteed to the citizen by the Common Law for centuries.’
The third case cited is a ruling in 2013 by Victorian Magistrate Duncan Reynolds that cast doubt on the legality of random police stops.
‘There is no common law power vested in police giving them the unfettered right to stop or detain a person and seek identification details. Nor, is s.59 of the (Road Safety) Act a statutory source of such power,’ he said.
The case was prompted by two African men being randomly stopped by police, and one being charged with assault when the situation escalated.
The man’s own lawyer conceded that the ruling didn’t apply to random breath tests as that power is explicitly spelled out in statute.
The big flaw in these arguments being applied to mandatory mask wearing and border checkpoints is that police would have a reasonable belief that anyone who didn’t comply had committed a crime, and could therefore be asked to provide details.