Popular holiday park kicks out ‘dishonest’ anti-vax group
An award-winning Queensland holiday park has been attacked in vicious social media commentary after they asked a controversial anti-vax bus to leave their premises, stating the group was dishonest for their reason for being there.
Big4 Caloundra Holiday Park, which was in 2019 voted the country's number one Big4, and the number two holiday park in Australia, asked Australian Vaccination-risks Network Inc. (AVN) to leave the premises after the Park became aware the group was there to film for their enterprise.
According to Big4 CEO Angus Booker, the AVN group - who arrived in their heavily signed black and red bus - checked into the family oriented holiday park around 11pm Wednesday.
"It was a self check in, so no one at the office was aware of what was happening," Mr Booker said.
"It became apparent they were setting it up as a film studio that they use to record their videos in relation to AVN. I was at reception as they were trying to extend their stay the following morning, and I just said, 'I haven't consented to using our property for your enterprise, so I'm going to have to ask you to leave and we'll refund you your money."
Mr Booker said the group were upset at the request to leave, and after some back and forth between the two parties - including a member of the AVN filming one of the Big4 staff members - the bus left the premises.
Anti-vaxxers have slammed Mr Booker for his decision to ask the group to leave, labelling it "discriminatory."
One social media user wrote: "This is discrimination. Vaccines injure and kill and we are all allowed to tell our stories."
Another upset Facebook user said: "Big4 Caloundra Holiday Park you should be ashamed! These people are well within their rights and lawfully ravelling around raising awareness about vaccine injured children!"
Mr Booker however said his decision to remove the Vaxxed bus would have been the same in any other circumstance where an enterprise was using Big4 locations as a place of business.
"The narrative they have is that we were kicking out people with vaccine incurred children, which is just ridiculous because from out point of view, it was really that they were using our land and our site not for holiday or accommodation purposes, but to run their enterprise and their cause from it," Mr Booker said.
"It wouldn't have mattered if it was a political party who decided to have a sneaky rally on the park or a radio station that turned up to broadcast from inside the park or whatever else.
"We've had a whole world of hate thrown at us for ultimately refusing service for a valid reason. It is really around the fact that they have a big massive branded truck that they use to promote themselves with inside our park. There aren't too many businesses that would allow another business to come in and secretly run their business from inside."
The AVN was in 2014 subject to an investigation by the New South Wales Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
As a result, the NSW HCCC issued a statement at the time saying; "AVN provides information on vaccination that is misleading to the average reader because it is either incorrect, inaccurately represented or because it has been taken out of context."
Mr Booker said that more broadly, he felt disingenuous having the large bus with the word 'Vaxxed' on it parked in the property, as he has been supportive of the best health practices and government guidelines throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the park, staff and guests were working hard to adhere to guidelines and ensure each other's safety while staying at the popular accommodation.
"It feels disingenuous to be telling my guests we take this COVID situation genuinely, while we've got people in the park who even deny the COVID situation exists," Mr Booker said.
Along with comments targeting Big4 were more personal comments, including one with a picture of Mr Booker which had been digitally altered to include the word "scum" across the picture.
Mr Booker said the commenters "venom and lack of facts" had shocked him most, while he said it was "incredibly unfair" and "disheartening" that social media users who hadn't stayed at the park were attacking the business and bringing down their online reviews.
"We work incredibly hard at providing a fantastic holiday experience and we work incredibly hard at providing a safe holiday experience for families," he said.
"When people use these social media tools to effectively harass us, it feels incredibly unfair."
Along with the online abuse however, came support for the park and Mr Booker.
"Thanks for standing up for what's right and keeping everyone safe, will definitely visit when I get the chance," one user said.
Another commenter said "I'm so proud to know (Big4) supports science. Wonderful to hear about the Vaxxed bus, it's a menace to society."
Other comments- which are too defamatory for The Courier-Mail to publish- heavily criticised AVN and told them to "go back to New South Wales."
Mr Booker, who believed comments made on his business' Facebook page by anti-vaxxers did AVN a disservice, said the park will recover from the negative commentary.
"The park is a favourite," he said.
"Last year it was voted the number one big 4 in Australia, and the second best park in Australia. We have a reputation as a safe, fun, quality environment, and any negative comments will be short lived because we are loved by the broader audience."
Australian Vaccination-risks Network Inc. did not respond to requests for comment.
Originally published as Popular holiday park kicks out 'dishonest' anti-vax group