A reporter has branded his attackers “cowardly” after he was pelted with a can and a cup of urine as he reported on anti-vaccine protests.
Paul Dowsley, a journalist for 7 News Melbourne, was at a rally against mandatory COVID vaccines for construction workers in Melbourne, Australia, to update viewers about the protests.
But while speaking to the camera, Dowsley was attacked by protesters, who put him in a headlock, threw a can at his head and covered him in urine.
Despite the ugly scenes, Dowsley told Australia’s Sunrise programme that he was “fine” – and hit out at those who attacked him and his cameraman.
He said: “To be caught up in that way was so unexpected.
“I’m there to report what people are thinking and feeling, I want to report what they’re saying, I want to report their cause and I hope to get some respect and to be treated in a way that was much better than that.
“It’s such a cowardly way to behave.”
Watch: Australia deploys thousands of police officer to counter anti-lockdown protests
Dowsley added: “The back of my head has seen better days, I can’t see it but I’m told there’s a bit of a bump there and a scratch.”
Protesters refused to talk to Dowsley during his report, but he was shouted down by people who said he was not “reporting their cause”.
He told 7 News: “I’m just a journalist doing my job, doing my best to tell you the facts as they are presented to me and as I see them.”
The protests in Melbourne this week were a reaction to an announcement from the Victorian government that all construction workers must show proof of a vaccine – or an intention to do so – by Friday if they want to work.
New site rules have also been imposed, including the closure of tearooms and a total ban on eating or drinking indoors.
The Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMMEU) has encouraged its members to get a COVID vaccination, but it has opposed it being mandatory.
It says it will “always advocate for safety, jobs, and freedom of choice” – including the decision of whether to get vaccinated.
Protesters out in Melbourne this week are calling for the union to oppose the government’s vaccine mandate.
However, the union would not be able to avoid any government requirement if mandatory vaccines are brought in.
Watch: Protests in Melbourne as virus fears halt construction