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Faces of ‘freedumb’: The anti-vax leaders

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Craig Kelly, Monica Smit and Avi Yemini have perpetuated the anti-vax 'free-dumb' movement throughout the pandemic (Screenshots via YouTube)

The anti-vax movement features a list of usual suspects ranging from politicians to social media attention-seekers, writes David Goldman.

OVER THE PAST 18 months, we have been assailed by so-called “freedom marches” overtaking parts of our capital cities.

Mainly comprised of a collection of very noisy and, at times, violent conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxxers, extreme homeopaths and “nationalists”, along with a range of right-wing whack jobs, they were best recently described by Jack the Insider from The Australian as being:

‘...a human potpourri of grievance based on the gamut of conspiracy theories, Woodstock for Q-cooked middle-aged saddos who spent much of Monday afternoon in the nation’s capital, shouting at an empty building.’

But that just describes the participants of these rallies or their hangers-on. But who are the organisers behind this Q-loving Army of Bogan Deplorables?

The following portraits are of many (but not all) of the leaders of this motley crew of suburban would-be “revolutionaries”, some of whom are scary, to say the least. Others, though, are simply just clowns looking for a circus.

Craig Kelly

MP Craig Kelly is an Australian politician who has served as the leader of the United Australia Party since August 2021. Kelly is also a right-wing rabble-rouser who left the L-NP last year, deeming it not conservative enough.

Since then, he has immersed himself in a range of conspiracy theories including climate denial, COVID-19 falsehoods, AstraZeneca fear-mongering and making false claims about fraud in the 2020 United States Presidential Election.

In November 2021, Kelly was “awarded” the Bent Spoon award by Australian Skeptics for spreading misinformation about COVID-19. In many ways, Kelly is both a buffoon and a bellwether for these “freedom march” morons, many of whom see him as some sort of godfather of their loony tune ideas.

Monica Smit

Monica Smit is the managing director of Reignite Democracy Australia, who recently described as “heroic” an incident in which a woman attempted to self-immolate in Melbourne, reportedly wearing a sign protesting against vaccine mandates.

Victorian Police alleged Ms Smit incited people on social media to attend two anti-lockdown protests in Melbourne last month, including the violent 21 August event where some 4,000 people demonstrated and at least nine police officers were injured.

In 2017, the 33-year-old from Pakenham in Melbourne’s outer southeast suburbs auditioned for Survivor after a ten-year career in sales, designing and selling houses. She failed to make it onto the show. She has now found success of sorts in a different reality show — as the head of a conspiracy theory group seeking political power.

Simeon Boikov

Simeon Boikov is from the Australia First Party, whose president is the Godfather of Australian Nazism and attempted murderer, Jim Saleam. As the self-styled leader of the “Australian Cossacks”, Boikov is a one-man pro-Vladimir Putin propaganda organisation that is known to have trained at a Spetznaz training camp in Russia and has rumoured to have seen limited action in eastern Ukraine fighting for the Russians.

He has links to extremist Serbian groups, the neo-Nazi Greek Golden Dawn and supports Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Last February, Mr Boikov told ABC’s Four Corners that Russia’s main Opposition Leader, Alexei Navalny, should be liquidated. He’s also been filmed harassing Ukrainian grandmothers coming out of church.

Rodney Culleton

Former One Nation Senator Rodney Culleton is head of the Great Australia Party, which recently received a $300,000 donation from Anthony Pratt’s Pratt Holdings. In 2019, Cullerton was referred to the police over concerns that he should not stand at the upcoming Federal Election because he was an undischarged bankrupt. In August 2021, he lost his bid to dump a conviction for failure failing to report his bankruptcy.

Liz Storer

The former City of Gosnells councillor is the national director of Advance Australia, a right-aligned group set up to champion conservative causes. She is also a Sky News contributor who accused Grace Tame of “churlishness” for her snub of PM Scott Morrison at this year’s Australia Day morning tea at The Lodge. Storer says she has taken it upon herself to “take down the radical Left”.

Milan Maksimovic

Former NSW Christian Democrats candidate Milan Maksimovic is now leader of the “Call to Freedom Party”. A supporter of the extremist Serbian Chetniks Australia group and of Srebrenica genocide denier Milorad Dodik and his Republika Srpska in Bosnia, on his Facebook profile there are numerous links with various Nazi collaborationist groups and a number of local right-wing media personalities.

Maksimovic is also a supporter of the World War 2 Serbian Chetniks, who although they are allowed to march on ANZAC Day, are classified as Nazi collaborators and quislings, a connection he shares with fellow “freedom march” organiser, Avi Yemeni.

Avi Yemini

According to Jessica Lynch from Brag Media, “Ozraeli” Avi Yemini is a far-right social media personality and gym owner known for his extreme right-wing ideology and controversial comments, including calling Islam a “barbaric ideology” and saying that Muslim countries are “Islamic shitholes”.

Yemini, who served as a sniper in the Israel Defence Forces and is a proud Zionist, in 2016 was sued by his brother and Yeshiva Centre child sexual abuse whistle-blower Manny Waks after he publicly accused his family of harbouring a paedophile.

He has more than once called himself “the world’s proudest Jewish Nazi”.

So, if you weren’t scared before reading this, then you should be now as this is the full gamut of RWNJ “diversity” on show. To call these people “grifters” would not do justice to their status as community disrupters and threats to civil order, a badge that I’m sure many of them would actually relish.

David Goldman is a writer, political analyst and sports fan who resides in NSW.

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