How do you scare people who aren’t afraid of COVID-19? As a group of anti-vaxxers camped outside New Zealand’s Parliament for several days, Speaker Trevor Mallard resorted to blasting Barry Manilow songs on a loop in an attempt to disperse the protesters.
According to New Zealand’s Stuff, Mallard also used the Parliamentary speakers to weaponize the 1993 dance song “Macarena,” and other tracks cribbed from a playlist from the world’s most hated songs. The campers refused to to leave, even after he switched on the grounds’ sprinklers.
The campers represent a small, though vocal, minority. The Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Speaker Trevor Mallard, won New Zealand’s 2020 election in a landslide victory. After two more years in the pandemic, the government is experiencing its lowest approval ratings of Ardern’s tenure, though Labour is still much more popular than any of its rivals. That didn’t stop the protesters from chanting, “Shame!” and, “You work for us!”
Prime Minister Ardern has instituted a countrywide vaccine mandate, and more than nine out of 10 Kiwis are vaccinated. The protests are made up of the holdouts, many of whom have lost their jobs because of their refusal to be inoculated. And if you believe Ardern, some of that rage has been “imported.”
“I’ve seen Trump flags on the forecourt, I’ve seen Canadian flags on the forecourt,” she said, the latter in reference to the ongoing antigovernment protests in Ottawa.
While New Zealand has consistently boasted some of the lowest rates of COVID-19 cases in the world, numbers have been modestly rising during the Omicron surge. For that reason, Ardern blasted the protesters. “That means at the very point where we are seeing an increase in cases and an increase in risk to the public health and well-being of New Zealand, they want to see removed the very measures that have kept us safe, well and alive. You’ll forgive me if I take a very strong view on that suggestion,” she said.