Thousands turn out for 'freedom' protests against vaccine, restrictions

·Assistant News Editor
·3-min read

Thousands of people have turned out in demonstrations in capital cities across Australia to protest mandatory vaccines and government restrictions. 

Melbourne saw the biggest protest where those opposed to the state's contentious pandemic bill, which grants the Victorian premier new powers, continue to take to the streets. 

The crowds gathered in Melbourne's CBD on Saturday were loosely comprise of groups including anti-vaxxers, those who oppose mandates, and those angry at the state's proposed new pandemic laws, which stalled in state parliament this week. 

People participate in a 'The Worldwide Rally for Freedom' in Melbourne. Source: Getty
People participate in a 'The Worldwide Rally for Freedom' in Melbourne. Source: Getty
The Worldwide Rally for Freedom is a day of rallies purportedly for
The Worldwide Rally for Freedom is a day of rallies purportedly for "freedom" across many countries, including Australia. Source: AAP

Protesters were watched on by police as they chanted "Kill the bill" and carried a range of flags and placards critical of the public health response to the pandemic.

A counter demonstration nearby has also attracted a sizeable crowd, AAP reported, but the group pledged not to seek a confrontation.

Organiser Nahui Jimenez said the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism rallies in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth were designed to draw public attention to the "growth of conspiratorial, anti-human and fascistic politics".

"Hostility to vaccines has become a gateway to the far right globally," she said.

"We will not allow fascist groups to propagate their bigotry and occupy our streets without resistance."

Far-right groups have reportedly infiltrated the anti-vaccine movement, fuelling concerns. Protests turned increasingly ugly this week with police investigating deaths threats allegedly made to the Victorian premier and his family.  

Demonstrators also turned out in Sydney on Saturday to tout their "freedoms" and oppose any government overreach.

Some in the Sydney crowd held Christian insignia. Source: AAP
Some in the Sydney crowd held Christian insignia. Source: AAP

Thousand walked through the CBD with some carrying Eureka flags and signs reading; "No vaccine mandate" and "Hands off our Kids". 

A similar gathering in Brisbane also attracted a counter protest, with opposition demonstrators taking to the street to condemn "right-wing lies".

Earlier in the week prime minister Scott Morrison was accused by the Victorian premier of "double speak" and "pandering to extremists" after defending protesters caught up in violent scenes as merely Australians "frustrated" with government rules during the pandemic. 

Queensland's deputy premier Steven Miles accused the PM of undermining the state's recovery while WA premier Mark McGowan said Mr Morrison was trying to "dog-whistle" and "score points" with anti-vaxxers. 

Mr Morrison said he did not support mandatory Covid vaccinations, despite enforcing the rule for his personal press events and maintaining the policy for people entering the country. 

"Over the last couple of years, governments have been telling Australians what to do," Mr Morrison said during a press conference.

"Now there has been a need for that as we have gone through the pandemic, but the time is now to start rolling all of that back."

with AAP

A man wearing a mask with a hole cut out of it holds an Australian flag during protest against mandatory vaccinations and lockdown measures in Sydney. Source: AAP
A man wearing a mask with a hole cut out of it holds an Australian flag during protest against mandatory vaccinations and lockdown measures in Sydney. Source: AAP

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