11 February 2022

UPDATED: EPIC Farmers Markets cancelled; 'Freedom' protestors asked to leave EPIC by Sunday

| Kim Treasure and James Coleman
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Freedom Convoy to Canberra campers outside of Lifeline Bookfair at EPIC. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

UPDATED 2:10 pm: ACT Policing has been advised by the management of Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) that widespread camping at the site needs to cease on Sunday (13 February), and campers will need to vacate the site by the end of the weekend.

The venue must be clear of people and equipment as preparations are made in the lead up to the Royal Canberra Show.

People who do not have bookings at the venue past Saturday (12 February) will be expected to leave by the end of this coming weekend.

This includes protestors from the ‘Freedom Convoy to Canberra’ group who made a booking at EPIC last week after being moved from the Patrick White Lawns near the National Library of Australia.

ACT Policing urges those staying at EPIC to respect the management of the venue and arrange to leave the facility peacefully by Sunday. People who remain after this time may be considered trespassing.

The Capital Region Farmers Market was scheduled for 12 Saturday but has been cancelled due to “safety concerns and logistics for customers”.

“It is with great sadness that we announce that Capital Region Farmers Market will not be going ahead as planned tomorrow morning,” organisers posted to social media at 1 pm today.

“It is a devastating result for our farmers and producers following on from the last two years.”

The Lifeline Book Fair at EPIC is proceeding as planned. Visitors should consider using public transport if possible, as parking is currently limited.

Police at court

ACT Policing prepared for protest action outside the ACT courts this morning. Photo: Albert McKnight.

UPDATED 11:00 am: Canberrans can expect more disruptions today and over the weekend as protestors continue to make their presence felt in the nation’s capital.

The ‘Freedom Convoy to Canberra’ has been protesting vaccine mandates throughout the capital since 31 January and numbers are expected to swell tomorrow (12 February).

READ ALSO Canberra becomes protest central as Parliament sits for first time this year

ACT Policing is advising Canberrans that protest activity is expected to continue for at least the next two days, with disruptions to traffic as protestors travel in convoy from one location to the next.

They say disruptions to roads, paths, open spaces and public and private offices across the ACT may occur.

Organised protest activity is expected on Saturday morning affecting Commonwealth Avenue. Posts on the official ‘Convoy to Canberra’ Facebook page are calling for one million people to participate in a march to Parliament House.

In a video posted to social media last night, protestors are also seen threatening to target the AIS mass vaccination clinic on Saturday, the same day the AIS is hosting a ‘Superhero Day’ to encourage five to 11-year-olds to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

In a press conference this morning, Chief Minister Andrew Barr described these threats as “very disappointing” and “the sort of extremist behaviour we have been calling out”.

“The protestors are an eclectic bunch. There is a wide variety of views that are being agitated for, but the sort of extremist statements that we’ve been seeing are now a daily occurrence,” Mr Barr said.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr at a press conference this morning (11 February). Photo: James Coleman.

Mr Barr said ACT Policing are aware of the protestors’ plans and will intervene as required. In the meantime, he encourages parents not to postpone their plans for getting their children vaccinated at the AIS tomorrow.

“Parents should be confident that bringing their kids to Superhero Saturday will be managed safely … People won’t be standing over you while you are waiting in line for your vaccination.”

He also admitted that there has been “a lot of social media talk that hasn’t really come to fruition”.

Protestors at court

Protestors outside the ACT courts this morning. Photo: Albert McKnight.

This morning there was a significant police presence outside the ACT Law Courts where at least one person involved in the Convoy to Canberra is scheduled to appear.

Police say roads near Parliament House may be subject to traffic control measures and people are urged to obey the directions of traffic controllers.

Motorists are advised to avoid this area if possible as delays and road closures are expected.

READ MORE Extra efforts ensure Lifeline Bookfair is safe and ready to go

Events at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC), including the Lifeline Book Fair and the Capital Region Farmers Markets, are proceeding as planned. Visitors should consider using public transport if possible as parking is currently limited at EPIC.

A spokesperson said while ACT Policing recognises the rights of people to protest peacefully, when illegal actions take place, the people responsible will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

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Are ACT Police and the Australian Army going to clean up EPIC after they clear the #cookers out? Some members of my families died of dysentery in the WA Goldfields. Similar levels of sanitation evident in pop up camps. ACT Health have enough to do with COVID.

Haha. The book fair knows it’s safe from that lot.

shameful! I hope these people at least have the decency to spend some money at the Lifeline Book Fair.

If so, I’m guessing the book fair will sell out of big print picture books.

Dallas Stow, I would say that coloured pencils and books without words would be more appropriate as some of the protesters are most likely illiterate. They certainly have a low emotional intelligence as they do not recognise they have outstayed their welcome.

I’m hoping the anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, anti-lots of things don’t go near the book sale, as they will refuse to wear a mask and then shout at the unfortunate volunteers, “I’m a human being, I have human rights. Wake up sheepie.” They will all say they have medical exceptions not to wear a mask too.

It seems the Farmers Market on Saturday has now been cancelled.

These whackos are now doing small businesses and family farmers out of some much need income. How selfish and un-Australian!!

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