Protesters gather in Melbourne CBD calling for Daniel Andrews to resign

Protesters gathered in the Melbourne CBD against mandatory vaccines.

A massive group of protesters gathered in Melbourne’s CBD spouting pro-Trump slogans and calling for Premier Daniel Andrews to be sacked, amid heated debate around mandatory vaccines and mounting frustration towards the state government.

The group, estimated to be over 1000, gathered outside Victorian parliament on Saturday, protesting forced Covid vaccines, ongoing restrictions for the unvaccinated, and controversial new pandemic laws.

Protesters could be heard shouting “kill the bill” in reference to laws controversially rushed through the lower house earlier this week.

Member for Western Metropolitan Dr Catherine Cumming seen speaking to over a thousand protesters gather against the Pandemic Lockdown legislation at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Member for Western Metropolitan Dr Catherine Cumming seen speaking to over a thousand protesters gather against the Pandemic Lockdown legislation at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Over a thousand protesters gathered against the Pandemic Lockdown legislation at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Over a thousand protesters gathered against the Pandemic Lockdown legislation at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray

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The laws would give the premier power to declare a pandemic for three months at a time and allow Health Minister Martin Foley to sign off on public health orders without the approval of the chief health officer, and are set to replace the state of emergency powers in December.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Labor MPs have been subject to intense criticism over the legislation, which critics claim would give their government unprecedented power.

The state this month also mandated the Covid vaccine for dozens of sectors, with Andrews telling millions of Victorians they would have to get vaccinated if they wanted to continue working.

Premier Daniel Andrews is facing heat over pandemic laws and vaccine mandates. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
Premier Daniel Andrews is facing heat over pandemic laws and vaccine mandates. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Authorised workers must be fully vaccinated by November 26.

The vaccine mandate has since been extended to social settings in Victoria, with harsh restrictions stopping the unvaccinated from entering restaurants, bars and events.

“This is critically important to keep case numbers down,” Mr Andrews said.

“This is not about stopping people going to work, it’s about making sure we can open up.

“It’s about making sure people can go to work, that they can be safe, and that we can defend and deliver our road map for opening.”

But angry protesters frustrated with the rules flocked to the streets on Saturday, armed with signs that read “Sack Dan” and “Stop the Bill”.

Other signs bizarrely denied Covid was real and played into issues around the “long term health effects” of the vaccine.

People in the crowd could be heard calling the Premier a “lunatic” and “delusional” and chanting “save our children, save our future”.

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich said witnesses at the march had provided him footage of a man in a concentration camp uniform holding a sign reading “history repeats”, assumingly comparing Victoria’s public health measures to the totalitarian rule of Nazi Germany during World War II.

“Nothing in Australia comes even close to the indescribable atrocities carried out on an industrial scale by the Nazis, and to suggest that we are on the road to Auschwitz is beyond words and divorced from reality,” Dr Abramovic said.

Over a thousand protesters gather against the Pandemic Lockdown legislation at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Over a thousand protesters gather against the Pandemic Lockdown legislation at Parliament House. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Protesters chanted “sack Dan Andrews” and anti-vaccine statements. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Protesters chanted “sack Dan Andrews” and anti-vaccine statements. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Over a thousand protesters marched up Bourke street. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
Over a thousand protesters marched up Bourke street. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray

A number of police were seen walking beside the crowd as they made their way through parks and city streets.

The smaller presence from police was in stark contrast to violent protests over September and October which saw protesters violently clash with police on the streets during lockdown.

Photos at Saturday’s protest showed police arrest one protester after he jumped on a police vehicle, while protesters surrounded one officer and pushed and shoved him.

It’s unclear if there were any other arrests.

A person seen being cuffed by police after jumping on a highway patrol car. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
A person seen being cuffed by police after jumping on a highway patrol car. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
A solo police officer gets caught in the crowd, protesters scream and push him as he tries to get away Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
A solo police officer gets caught in the crowd, protesters scream and push him as he tries to get away Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray

Victorian independent Catherine Cumming was photographed leading the crowd, chanting “sack Dan Andrews” and “vote them out” alongside other protesters.

She is not the first Victorian state politician to be seen at an anti-government rally, with Liberal Democrats’ MP David Limbrick attending anti-lockdown rallies this year.

Earlier this month, Mr Limbrick and fellow Liberal Democrat Tim Quilty refused to hand over their vaccination records, claiming the rule, which ultimately had them barred from entering parliament, was “undemocratic”.

Liberal Neil Angus in parliament this month also shared his personal concern about the vaccine, and said the safety of the vaccine needed to be questioned.

“Victoria will become a two-tier society. Unvaccinated people will be sacked from their jobs and will be excluded from the ordinary functioning of society,” he said this month.

A handful of Victorian politicians, including independent MP Catherine Cumming, have protested against the government’s lockdown and vaccine rules. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray
A handful of Victorian politicians, including independent MP Catherine Cumming, have protested against the government’s lockdown and vaccine rules. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Matray

rhiannon.tuffield@news.com.au

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