7 February 2022

'Freedom' protest ramping up for return of Parliament

| James Coleman
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Freedom Convoy to Canberra

Thousands of protestors set out from Glebe Park on Saturday. Photo: Region Media.

After a week in the capital, Canberra’s ‘freedom’ protest shows no signs of abating, and organisers are preparing for a surge in numbers ahead of the return of Parliament tomorrow (8 February).

ACT Policing is alerting the Canberra community to the likelihood that protest activity will increase in the coming days and be prepared for delays on roads across the city.

The ‘Freedom Convoy to Canberra’ arrived last Monday (31 January) as a small number of people protesting against Australia’s reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, chiefly in relation to vaccination and face mask mandates. Since then, the number has exploded to an estimated 3000.

Posts on the group’s official Facebook page suggest ‘a second wave’ will arrive in time for a massive rally outside Parliament House tomorrow morning when Parliament sits for the first time this year.

The group comprises many factions, including neo-Nazi extremists, conspiracy theorists and Aboriginal sovereignty campaigners, but the majority say they “just want their lives back”.

Man with flag over shoulders

Many of the protestors speak of job losses due to vaccine mandates. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

While the key protest areas are expected to be in the Parliamentary Triangle and the airport precinct, police are aware that due to the wide range of protest groups, other areas of Canberra may be targeted.

“Protest action may happen with little to no notice,” the ACT Policing spokesperson said.

“Anyone moving across Canberra should allow for extra time due to possible disruptions on roads, in open spaces, at shopping centres and near office buildings.”

The group initially set up a makeshift camp on the Patrick White Lawns near the National Library of Australia but were moved by police on Friday last week.

A spokesperson for ACT Policing on the scene described it as “mostly peaceful”, but also the biggest deployment of the force in the ACT’s history.

Protestors at Australian Parliament House

Hand-written signage calls for the end of vaccine and mask mandates in Australia. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Several vehicles were towed away after their owners refused to move them and a man was charged with a firearm offence.

Protestors have since taken up free accommodation at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) in Mitchell, casting doubt over whether the Royal Canberra Show will go ahead at EPIC as planned on Friday, 25 February.

On Saturday, several thousand protestors met in Glebe Park before making their way along Northbourne Avenue and across Commonwealth Avenue, culminating at a massive rally on the lawns of Parliament House.

Former Qantas pilot Graham Hood retired last year after the airline announced that COVID-19 vaccination was a condition of continued employment.

Mr Hood spoke at the rally and said that people have had enough of getting nowhere with their respective premiers and were instead going straight to the top – Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Graham Hood

Graham Hood addressing the crowd of protestors outside the National Press Club on Wednesday, 2 February. Photo: Graham Hood.

“This is what Australians do when they have their backs to the wall,” he said.

“We’re sick and tired of not being allowed to cross borders. We want the jab mandates gone, not only in government entities but also in corporate and private entities … We want to abolish mask mandates … We don’t want our kids touched.”

Leader of the United Australia Party Craig Kelly and Liberal-National Member for Dawson in Queensland George Christensen also spoke at the rally.

READ ALSO Protesters should not take capital’s tolerance and hospitality for granted

On Sunday, the group converged on Canberra Airport to get the attention of politicians flying into Canberra for the sitting of Parliament.

Earlier that morning, ACT Policing warned traffic control measures would be in place to minimise the impact on legitimate airport users, but delays should be expected.

Spokespeople for Qantas and the airport have said passengers should allow extra time to account for possible delays.

Freedom Convoy to Canberra

Freedom Convoy to Canberra protesting along Northbourne Avenue. Photo: Region Media.

Due to protest activity in the area, the police had to cancel Sunday night’s purple illumination of the Parliament House facade for the Queen’s Jubilee. Other buildings still lit up.

Several local businesses have also complained of abuse at the hands of protestors.

Protestors hit Queanbeyan-based towing company All States Towing with one-star Google reviews after the company was contracted by the AFP to remove illegally parked vehicles from Patrick White Lawns.

READ ALSO UPDATED: Man arrested after loaded, modified firearm found at ‘freedom’ protest camp

The King O’Malley’s pub in Civic suffered a similar fate on Sunday after staff asked protestors to wear face masks while inside.

The Canberra community has since come out to support both businesses to bring their Google ratings back up.

Convoy to Canberra protest

Protestors being removed from the Patrick White Lawns. Photo: James Coleman.

Local Juls Jefferson has also started an online petition calling for “stronger government and police management of anti vaccine protestors in Canberra”.

“Canberrans have had enough of anti-vaccine right-wing protestors who have descended on Canberra and pose a significant risk to public health and safety”, the petition reads.

It had around 125 signatures at noon today (7 February).

ACT Policing has reiterated the right of individuals to conduct lawful, peaceful protests, but reminds the wider community not to take the law into their own hands if they see protesters acting illegally.

“Police will respond where required and the people responsible will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” the spokesperson said.

Anyone with information about illegal behaviour by protesters is advised to report their concerns by contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via the Crime Stoppers ACT website.

To report illegal activity while it is happening, call the Police Assistance line on 131 444, and in the event of a life-threatening emergency, call Triple Zero (000) from a safe location.

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This isn’t a protest, it is a convention for the rightwing echo chamber addicted idiots among us who think they speak for all ‘everyday Australians’ because they are too stupid to appreciate how being governed works in their favour.

They want the roads to drive here on in their taxpayer subsidised utes, the free campsites to live in their vans in, the roads to block with their heavy vehicles and the traffic controllers to runover (not to mention the hospitals to help their victims recover).

They are a buden to society who are offering nothing accept their own selfish agenda. To equate them to the school strike for climate, invasion day rallies or recent nurses protest for better conditions is an insult to all of those protesting for a genuinely better Australia.

What mandate? There is no mandate. Idiots.

The red ensign (except for the navy), was rarely seen here in the last decades in Australia, until the USA anti-vaxxers and Trump’s cult flying red flags. Then those here influenced by the right in the USA bought red ensigns to follow those in the US.
The red ensign in the early decades of the 1900s was the Navy’s flag, but also the main flag flown by the public in Australia. (A memo from the Prime Minister’s Department dated 6 March 1939 states that: “the Red Ensign is the flag to be flown by the public generally”) The blue flag was for official use. The flags ACT of 1953 made the blue flag the Australian flag, because the red flag had too many communist overtones. Which always gets a sad smirk from me when I see the right of the USA waving their red flags about and wearing red hats, and now the right here doing the same. Elsewhere, outside the USA, red flags are linked to Communism. In the USA red is the colour (color) of the right. They do so many things different from others in other parts of word.
My family has a large, old woollen red flag somewhere, still in good condition. Now the far right has stolen it, I would be embarrassed to be seen with it, which is sad. It’s no longer the people’s flag; now these extremists have appropriated it as a symbol of the far right. Especially, it seems flown upside down. Yes they do distress people, these fanatical cultists.

Capital Retro2:13 pm 07 Feb 22

Lots of advice on how to “dob-in” your fellow Australians who may not agree with your political views eh, James?

What part of “illegal behaviour/activities” are you unable to differentiate from “political views”?

Good Old Capital Retro – always has that little bit of wisdom nobody really cares about….

Without a doubt this is my all time favoutrite!

Capital Retro 7:05 pm 03 Feb 22
The project won’t proceed past the first stage after people “on the ground” there find the odour of composting at the nearby MLRMC intolerable.


I was innocently walking across commonwealth avenue bridge and only just avoided getting caught up in a group of protesters recently. Horrifying experience. No where to go to get away from them if you are stuck on the bridge. I understand peoples right to protest, but do it in a way and in areas where others aren’t caught up in it. Nobody wants to be stuck in the middle of an angry mob. And a reminder that not every public servant in canberra is behind the vax or face mask policies.

What?! You couldn’t see or hear them coming until you were surrounded?!

I’m not the fastest walker and it takes a while to get over the bridge. They were walking much faster than I can. I could hear noise but no, couldn’t see they’d taken over the entire footpath until I was partway over the bridge.

Those people who are no longer employed in their career of choice were not sacked or fired, they exercised their freedom of choice to not have a vaccine in a field where for better or worse there is a requirement to be vaccinated. They cannot cry that they were booted out, they chose to be non compliant with their employers requirements for continued employment. There are plenty of jobs going in rural Australia where you don’t need to be vaccinated, how about they try that for a while.

I see it as no different to having your right to drive revoked for refusing to not drive while intoxicated. Driving, like employment, is a priviledge not a right. If you cannot uphold your end of the deal, then you do not deserve the privledge.

Unfortunately, ignorance to privledge seems to be one of the recurring themes amongst this coallition of anti-vax imbiciles who have descended upon the most vaccinated city in the world to dictate Aussie values.

The narrative that anti vaccine protesters are of the far right is just plain wrong. Anti vaccine has always been of the far left, the hippy dippy, bare foot, anti authoritative, natural therapy, vegan folk whose homeland is the Byron Shire.

Also, “The group comprises many factions, including neo-Nazi extremists”, really, we’ve all seen news video of the protesters with their flags and signs, and this is definitely not the impression I get from what I’ve seen.

There is a great doco on Netflix called ‘Behind the Curve’ discussing the views and rationalisations of proponents of the flat earth conspiracy. I think the same sort of social isolation, group think and general distrust of authority applies to those folks currently on the streets in the parl triangle.

Actually no – there are no MPs or senators from either the ALP or the Greens party who support them. On the other hand MPs from the right of politics who have been supporting anti-vaxxers include George Christensen, Craig Kelly, Alex Antic and Gerard Rennick. So your theory fall flat on facts.

nobody, You only have to look at the present lot of protesters with their red flags to see from where their influence comes. Trumps lot with their red flags and red caps (seen them worn here too), who also tend to be strongly anti-vaxxer. So the Australians from the right dredged up the old red flag in tribute to the anti-vaxxer Trump camp in the USA. Their anti-vaxxer information almost certainly originated from the far right of the USA. It’s my body, I’m a human being, wake up sheepie, all originating in the USA. It’s the so called red states in the USA with the most anti-vaxxers; the vaccination rate showing that.
Yes, in the past the left tended to dominate the anti-vaxxers, and I’m sure some are still anti-vaxer, but this latest lot is definitely highly influenced by the right.

astro2, anti vaccine has always been the of the hippy left, that’s a fact.

Maya123, the Australian Red Ensign has nothing to do with the USA, instead it was the flag used by the people from the start of the Commonwealth, and the flag carried in the backpack of many diggers. Today it is been used as the flag of the people, wether you agree or disagree with the cause, it’s still been used to signify the people against the government.

Mate, “nobody’, you’re in a muddle, best to stop digging yourself a hole. “Fact” is something you can prove, for instance, that Craig Kelly, a right-wing politician and ex-Lib member, was addressing the protestors and supporting them. You can prove that. “Opinion” is when you say “I think they’re hippie dippy and then, therefore, must be “left wing”. Quite clearly there are no politicians in any left wing parties who support the protesters but, factually, there are people on the right wing of politics, including from Liberal party, UAP and One Nation.

astro2, anti vaccine has been an issue for leftie alternative life stylers for many decades, we all know this.

You’ll have to do better than that. “We all know…” means you reckon, your prejudice or feelings doesn’t equate to fact. Now, if you want to put forward some evidence as to why Malcom Roberts, Clive Palmer and George Christensen are “left wing hippies” you can go right ahead.

astro2, I did not say those dudes are left wing hippies.

Yeah, I walked with them and the experience was like a big family day out. Demographic from across the board, young and old, rednecks to Asians to the Indigenous, working class to the professionals. Felt like a big picnic day out. Was kinda fun.

Anyone know why their using the naval red flags, with only 6 pointed stars?

Because Australia is a corporate entity that has had an illegal government and governor-general since 1973 and the red ensign is the people’s flag. Or something like that. It’s very sensible stuff.

Majoof, when the Commonwealth was formed the Blue Ensign was reserved for official Commonwealth buildings and occasions, and the Red Ensign was for the the people to fly at home or wherever. This is why there are photographs from the past showing people with Red one. This was changed after WWII, and the Blue Ensign was made the official flag for everyone. Today commercial vessels use the Red Ensign and the Navy use the White Ensign. The Red Ensign has now become popular as a symbol of the people against the government.

But wasn’t everything black and white back then? I have seen photos and it appears most things in the world were black and white. There was some grainy grey stuff too but no sign of red or blue.

tuco, Kodak introduced Kodachrome to the general public in 1935, and there were several high-end methods for taking colour photographs in the previous decades.

There were always 2 versions for the flags but during the cold war and communist issue the Red version was discouraged and the blue flag made official. The red flag was always the peoples flag and used by the navy.

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