Convoy to Canberra protester and former mayor of Eurobodalla Shire Liz Innes has warned that the protests are “not going away” as protesting activity starts to pick up across the ACT.
Her revelation comes as police investigate a confrontation between a bus and a number of Convoy to Canberra protesters at around midday on Tuesday (22 March).
Ms Innes said that this weekend’s protest ahead of the Federal Budget on Tuesday night (29 March) is an event she “wouldn’t miss … for the world”.
“It’s about that presence and continuing that presence. This is not going to go away. This is the start of the people’s revolution and I don’t necessarily know that the budget has a huge amount to do with it,” she said.
“There are specific things that these protestors are calling for and it’s a matter of it continuing, and it’s going to continue.
“It’s making sure that people notice us and that our voices are heard.”
Ms Innes said she was inspired by the movement after losing faith in government and wanting to return power to the people.
“At the start of all of this, like everybody, I had faith in the powers that be, that they would be doing the right thing by Australians in dealing with this pandemic,” she said.
“When it became that if you weren’t going to take the vaccination, then you wouldn’t have a job, that for me, was the final straw, and it was for so many other people.”
At approximately 11:45 am yesterday, ACT Policing attended an incident on Northbourne Avenue in the city between protesters and a bus driver.
In a video circulating online, the protestors with flags, signs and a megaphone are seen standing in front of a bus preventing the driver from moving forward. Calls of “take his license plate” can be heard in the audio.
Addressing the confrontation with the bus driver, Ms Innes said that misbehaviour was consistent with any other large gathering.
“If you look at how many people have been in Canberra for all of that time, and if there’s one or two small incidents because we’re human beings, after all, I think by and large if you speak to police officers that have been there, they’ve been overly impressed by the behaviour of the protesters,” she said.
“Our mantra is, ‘we are peaceful, we are powerful and we are polite’, and we keep reminding people that we’re there for a reason.”
Police are investigating the incident.
A Transport Canberra spokesperson said that they were also conducting their own review of the incident in which the bus made contact with a protester.
The bus driver had been offered “appropriate support”.
“The safety of our drivers and passengers is Transport Canberra’s highest priority. Every bus driver can make contact with the operations centre designed to support them via their radio. There is also a duress button onboard for drivers’ use. There are also transport officers on duty at major interchanges and out on the roads to quickly support drivers and passengers,” the spokesperson said.
The incident was part of a “small, mobile group of protesters” moving around the city yesterday managed by ACT Policing, which peaked with a small number of vehicles needing to be moved on by police from the grassed area in front of Parliament House.
“The group of about 100 people drove in convoy and gathered in Glebe Park at about 11.30 am and then marched and drove down Northbourne Avenue to Parliament House,” the police spokesperson said.
“Police used both active and passive measures to divert protestors’ vehicles from certain roads as the group moved towards Parliament.
“ACT Policing again thanks Canberrans for their patience and reminds the community that protest activity may occur in the coming week. Short term traffic disruptions in the city and Parliamentary Triangle may occur with little to no notice.”
Further protesting activity is expected over the next week in the lead-up to the release of the Federal Budget on Tuesday (29 March).
A flyer circulating online indicates that the ‘Pinnacle Protest Rally’ will begin at Glebe or Commonwealth Park at 9:00 am on Saturday (26 March) as the group of protesters march towards the Parliament lawns. Nine of the ACT’s 10 public campgrounds are already booked out over the weekend.