Controversial former celebrity chef and conspiracy theorist Pete Evans has delivered a bizarre speech to a crowd of people protesting the Covid-19 vaccine days ahead of its rollout.
Protesters voicing their opposition to the vaccine clashed with police at Melbourne's Fawkner Park on Saturday and at Hyde Park in Sydney.
Evans was among hundreds of protestors at the event, named the Millions March Against Mandatory Covid Vaccination rally, and addressed the crowd barefoot from a stage.
Evans, who has recently been banned from social media platforms, was recently announced as the Great Australia Party's first candidate running for the Senate, and used Saturday's platform to speak of his political intentions.
"I've been invited to step in as a Federal senator for the NSW seat. Thanks to Rod Culleton for inviting me into The Great Australian Party to stand up," he said in footage shared online by News.com.au.
"Just to give you an idea, last year I begged others to do this for me, I begged people I thought could change the future of Australia, I f****** begged," he told the crowd.
'I f**king begged': Former reality star turned conspiracist Pete Evans has made a bizarre speech about his political aspirations at an anti-vaxxer rally in Sydney. @dollyybird is reporting LIVE from the event. Full story: https://t.co/A4cZDI0JZE pic.twitter.com/Bk9THFMlOI
— news.com.au (@newscomauHQ) February 20, 2021
"And in the back of my mind there was this scared little guy going 'you know you're going to have to do this'. I'm not an expert at this, I will get better, but I will do my best, and hopefully represent all of you to the best of my capacity."
Officers used pepper spray on some protesters at Melbourne's Fawkner Park when they moved beyond cordons and at times police appeared to lose control of the crowd, an AAP photographer on the scene said.
Police made multiple arrests at the protest, where some people chanted "freedom, freedom".
The Melbourne rally started peacefully with speakers addressing the crowd, but "people started getting pretty fired up," the photographer said.
Speakers made comments such as "God's on our side" and "it's a fight between good and evil".
One speaker was interrupted by a directive from police for people to spread out into groups of 20 - the current maximum number allowed for public gatherings in Victoria - which was met with jeers.
Videos taken by Reignite Democracy Australia, an organisation set up in opposition to the Victorian government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, show a speaker congratulating the crowd for turning up.
The speaker talked about feeling "so alone" during the lengthy stage four lockdowns in the city last year and feeling like she was not allowed to question the government's decisions.
High-risk Australians, including frontline health workers, are due to start receiving coronavirus vaccinations on Monday.
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