They Claimed 'New World Order' on COVID; Judge Hit Them Hard

Anti-vaxxers fueled by conspiracy theories must pay Aussie federal, state gov'ts $150K in legal fees
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2022 8:10 AM CDT
Aussie Judge Hits Anti-Vaxxers Hard With Costly Ruling
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/songdech17)

Every Australian state except for one, as well as one territory and the nation's federal government, is set to recoup tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees after a federal judge ruled against an anti-vaxxer group, saying the members had failed to prove their claims that COVID mandates were unconstitutional. Per the Newcastle Herald, Justice Debra Mortimer tossed a lawsuit spearheaded by New South Wales teen Cienna Knowles—who claimed she'd been "nonconsensually double-vaccinated" and hospitalized as a result—and on Monday ordered that she and others involved in the complaint fork over nearly $150,000 in legal costs to the governments of NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania, as well as to those of the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth itself.

The only state not involved in the case was South Australia. The suit brought by Knowles, a 19-year-old equestrian competitor, and her co-complainants claimed coronavirus vaccine mandates and lockdowns were being fueled by "a new world order"—which describes as "a conspiracy theory popularized by far-right conspiracists" such as QAnon members—and "constituted a breach of the Nuremberg Code." Knowles claims she received two shots of the Pfizer vaccine out of fear of losing her job and was hospitalized with blood clots in her chest as a result. Others involved in the complaint included a Melbourne electrical contractor who says he couldn't work in the construction industry unless he got vaccinated, as well as a woman who says she fled the Northern Territory to avoid COVID mandates and ended up on the streets.

In her ruling on the "complex and resource-intensive case," Mortimer noted that Knowles and the eight others behind the complaint hadn't provided the evidence needed to prove their claims. Instead, their suit was "a general attack on the government response across Australia to the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of a vaccination program," Mortimer noted in her ruling, per 7News. She added that a situation like the pandemic required "weighing the potential harm ... from the spread of the COVID-19 virus against the impacts on a community of measures designed to minimize that harm," per the Herald. Knowles et al. aren't happy about the ruling—the teen said afterward, "I don't owe anyone anything, not even an explanation," per—but it could've been even worse: The various governments had originally sought to recover nearly $250,000 in total. (More anti-vaxxers stories.)

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