William Bay, a former GP registrar, lost his medical licence after a widely publicised outburst decrying the COVID vaccines at the National Conference of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), in July 2022.
During the confrontation, which was live streamed to social media, Bay accused Professor Paul Kelly of lying and of gaslighting doctors, and called on the medical professionals present to, “join with the people of Australia and stop forcing these vaccines on people who are being killed by them.” Bay was swiftly escorted out of the venue by security, which was also live-streamed.
Since then, Bay’s penchant for hyperbole and dramatic flair has positioned his ongoing stoush with the medical regulator, AHPRA, as a colourful subplot in Australia’s grand COVID (#notover) narrative.
To some disaffected Australians harmed or marginalised (or both) by COVID vaccine mandates, the furore surrounding Bay’s suspension is a modern-day Biblical pantomime. Bay stars as hero, a fire and brimstone preacher railing against tyranny and heralding a new age of medical freedom and transparency. The medical regulators, AHPRA, and policy-makers are agents of evil forces, suppressing the truth of vaccine harms and unjustly dispatching with anyone who seeks to oppose them.
Mainstream news outlets have offered an equally dramatic narrative, however theirs repurposes the religious impulse for the technological age. In this version, vaccines are a holy, untouchable cow, and safety is the highest virtue. AHPRA and the policy-makers are the high priests charged with protecting the sacred vaccine program. Dissenting doctors like Bay are heretics driven by evil forces, unleashing anti-vaccine calamity with every tweet.
So, is William Bay a hero, or a heretic? He’s certainly not your average doctor.
To start, Bay’s conduct is highly sensational, with strong religious overtones. Bay does not shy away from this characterisation. In fact, it’s his communications strategy.
“I do not deny that my approach was unusual, but that is the whole point,” says Bay. “I signed all the declarations, but nothing was happening, and the tyranny was just getting worse and worse. You know, one shot, two shot, three shot, four. So as the conservative approach has not worked, I thought a bit of flair and colour was worth a try to wake the Australian people up to the horrors that we were experiencing.”
By “horrors,” Bay means the COVID vaccine program which he believes to be unsafe, coercive vaccine mandates, lack of informed consent, and other aggressive pandemic policies implemented both in his home state of Queensland, and around Australia.
And so, with ‘flair and colour’, Bay embarked on a new campaign against these horrors. In February 2022, Bay participated in the infamous Convoy to Canberra, an anti-mandate protest which reportedly attracted as many as a million people to the nation’s capital over several weeks.
Since then, Bay has zoomed in to a private hearing with AHPRA with several hundred people in the background, has been photographed blowing a ram’s horn outside of a court hearing, and has been arrested whilst protesting with a megaphone outside AHPRA’s headquarters (he was released without charges).
Bay is now embroiled in legal proceedings, as he prepares to appeal AHPRA’s suspension of his medical licence in the High Court, during which he plans to represent himself. Next, he intends to stage a march around AHPRA’s headquarters blowing the ram’s horn (called a shofar), a Biblical symbol of victory in battle.
“We’re going to march around the building seven times and blow the Victory Horn, which did give me a victory in the Supreme Court,” says Bay, in reference to blowing the horn on the steps outside the Supreme Court at the beginning of the proceedings last year. “I haven’t had a victory in the High Court yet, but maybe because I haven’t blown my horn down there.”
Battle and his Christian faith are recurring themes in conversation with Bay, who views the policy decisions around COVID vaccines and mandates as part of a meta war between dark and light forces.
Bay has publicly called Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk a “dark mistress”, one of the many politicians and bureaucrats who must be fought to gain a “victory in this war for freedom.” Anyone who has read the Biblical Testaments will be familiar with such language. It’s a trope as old as Moses.
In Bay’s view, non-compliance is the courageous response in a war that has been perpetrated on the people by those in power. Bay is not alone in this view, with many in Australia’s growing freedom counter-culture expressing similar views online, including well-known figure Michael Gray Griffith, of Café Locked Out. In a tweet referencing Bay’s Supreme Court proceedings, Griffith wrote, “…if you have forgotten what true courage looks like, William is it. And I am proud to call him my friend.”
This is an Historic Live.— Cafe Locked Out 8:32 (@cafelockedout) July 4, 2023
Here, suspended Dr William Bay waits to hear if he can appeal his High Court Ruling. He has been told by everyone, including lawyers that he has no chance, yet still he waits.
And after deliberating for 30 hours, the High Court grants him his right to… https://t.co/XMJ7LGq4I1
Such camaraderie in the freedom community was instrumental in Bay’s conversion to Christianity, in early 2022. Bay recounts, “I had been attending the freedom rallies in Brisbane in 2021, just watching and listening. And I happened to run into some Christian preachers who were always at the freedom rallies. And I thought, since I’m listening to all these ideas about freedom, it would only be appropriate that I give these people the time of the day as well and have a listen to what they have to say.”
Around this time, Bay had a series of spiritual experiences which led to him to the Christian faith. “From that moment on. I took all my instructions from Jesus, from God. I mean that literally,” says Bay, who frequently gives praise to God for good outcomes and attributes intuitions to God’s guidance. How does Bay know what is God’s voice and what is his own thinking?
“It’s through recognising signs over time and sometimes trial and error. I don’t have a direct line with the big man, so I make mistakes,” he says. “But for the most part, because of all those spiritual experiences that I have had, I have learned to discern what is his word and what is not.”
While Bay’s motivations are based in a spiritual realm that not all can understand or access, many of his stated concerns about AHPRA and COVID policies are grounded in documented facts.
Take Bay’s complaints of medical censorship. During the pandemic, health practitioners who gave advice or even made social media posts that were perceived to be critical of the COVID vaccine program were subject to investigations by AHPRA and, in some cases, suspension. An AHPRA spokesperson says that the regulator received 18,710 notifications concerning 14,313 health practitioners in 2021-2022. 21 of these health practitioners were suspended. Of the notifications,1300 were in relation to Covid.
Health practitioners who come under investigation incur reputational damage and can be provisionally suspended for years without the ability to earn a living before getting a proper hearing. Earlier this year, AHRA released a confronting study revealing that between January 2019 to December 2021, 16 health practitioners had taken their own lives while subject to investigation by the regulator, with another four attempting suicide or self-harming.
Bay’s own experience attests to the hardship of suspension. “It’s been devastating in in terms of career and financial security,” he says. “And that has been very frightening for my wife and two children. It is a hard thing to face the medical regulator and not have the resources. It can create fractions and divisions within marriages and families.”
It is also true that informed consent went out the window in Australia during the pandemic. Most Australians received their COVID vaccinations under coercive mandates, which contravened the Australian Immunisation Handbook’s conditions for valid consent. In many cases Australians were not informed of key risks, such as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following the AstraZeneca vaccine, until after they had received their vaccinations, thereby denying them of informed consent.
Bay established the Queensland People’s Protest in 2022, a pro-freedom group dedicated to raising awareness about medical censorship, informed consent and freedom of speech. If his medical licence is not reinstated, he plans to run as an independent in Queensland’s state election next year.
As for his vision for AHPRA, Bay is characteristically bombastic. “I want to bring them down. I want to completely dismantle that organisation because it is so evil and unconstitutional, and responsible for the harm of many thousands of Australians. Most importantly, as long as they continue, this war isn’t over, but inevitably we will win.”
William Bay, hero or heretic? Either way, he’s certainly made a name for himself in the annals of Australia’s COVID history.