Premier slams 'small, ugly' mob after 'disgusting' gallows stunt

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Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has labelled protesters seen camping on the steps of the state parliament as "extremists", and accused political opponents of currying favour with the mob for "[voting] preferences". 

On Monday night protesters erected makeshift gallows outside the state's parliament with an inflatable Daniel Andrews doll appearing on the gallows as people cheered.

A video posted on social media shows the protesters gathered around a wooden gallows chanting "Freedom", "Traitor", "Kill Dan Andrews" and "Hang Dan Andrews".

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, the premier disavowed those responsible for the scenes, saying he would not be distracted by the aggressive protestations. 

"I wouldn't want the appalling, the disgusting and the potentially criminal behaviour of a small number of people to detract away from the amazing job that so many Victorians have done," he said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews pictured
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has lashed out at a 'potentially criminal' protest. Source: AAP

"It is so unfair for a small, ugly mob to be taking attention away from the more than 90 per cent of Victorians who have had a first dose and will soon have had a second dose."

The demonstrators were protesting about the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill which will give the premier and state health minister the power to declare a pandemic and make strict public health orders. 

Debate on the bill began in the upper house on Tuesday afternoon and went well into the night. It is expected to resume on Thursday and looks set to pass after the government made minor amendments to secure the support of three crossbench MPs.

Premier accuses Liberal MPs of giving 'comfort' to extremists

Mr Andrews took aim at political opponents, accusing them of trying to curry favour with people demonstrating extreme and violent views.

"Politics is about but what you stand for and it is about who you stand with. And there have been some podiums shared, some comfort given ... This is a preference hunt for some and I don't think that ordinary, hard-working, mainstream Victorians, those that are not ugly extremists, will easily or readily forget who has been out on the front steps currying favour with extremists," he said. 

On Tuesday, Liberal MP Roma Britnell met with protesters.

"These people have genuine concerns. They have the right to be listened to," she told reporters at parliament.

People are seen during a demonstration outside the Victorian State Parliament on Tuesday. Source: AAP
People are seen during a demonstration outside the Victorian State Parliament on Tuesday. Source: AAP

"I didn't see any violence. If there had been violence, if there had been inappropriate behaviour, I wouldn't have stayed, wouldn't be part of that."

Leader of the opposition in the upper house David Davis agreed saying it was important for political representatives to speak to people of every walk of life.

Deputy Premier James Merlino said it was up to Victoria Police to decide if they should investigate, but demanded those on the other side of politics to stop encouraging the protests.

"What we've seen on the steps of parliament — threats of violence threats to kill — this is extremist behaviour," he told reporters this morning.

"For those in the Liberal Party to ... actively encourage this behaviour, I think it would be anathema to the people of Victoria."

In response to the viral footage, Mr Andrews wife, Catherine Andrews, Tweeted on Tuesday thanking people for their support. 

"We have received so many beautiful messages today from all over. Thank you. We are reminded that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it," she posted.

Victoria recorded 996 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday and a further nine people died with the virus. 

with AAP

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