First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

Anti-Vaccination Protesters Cause Chaos in Australian C...


Anti-vaxxer parade in Canberra

Anti-Vaccination Protesters Cause Chaos in Australian Capital

Anti-vaccine protestors outside the National Press Club on Feb. 1.
By Bloomberg
07 Feb 2022 6

(Bloomberg) -- A group of anti-vaccination demonstrators and conspiracy theorists have blocked roads and targeted businesses in the Australian capital of Canberra ahead of the return of federal parliament on Tuesday.

By Ben Westcott

Word Count: 401
Hundreds of cars and trucks waving Australian flags, military insignia and campaign banners for former U.S. President Donald Trump descended on the city over the past week to call for the end to vaccination requirements in businesses and places of employment.Demonstrators blocked roads around the airport on Sunday when politicians and their staff were returning to Canberra from around the country ahead of the parliamentary sitting week. A small number of police were deployed to the airport to stop the demonstrators from accessing the building.

The protests in Canberra have echoed similar demonstrations in the Canadian capital Ottawa, where hundreds of truckers and other demonstrators have occupied the city’s streets to call for an end to Covid-19 restrictions.

Covid Backlash Brews in Canada, Sending Warning Across Globe

The Australian protests have attracted a mixed bag of demonstrators. These include advocates of the “sovereign citizen” movement that generally believes people aren’t bound by certain laws and QAnon-style conspiracy theorists who claim without evidence that the government is run by a secret network of pedophiles who traffic children.

Neither Prime Minister Scott Morrison or the Opposition Labor Party have commented on the Canberra protests.

Australia is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, with almost 94% of the population over 16 receiving both shots of a Covid-19 vaccine. While the government has ruled out making it mandatory for citizens to get vaccinated, many people have been required to have both their shots before they can return to work, including healthcare professionals.

Despite the high vaccination rates, a vocal minority of Australians have refused to get their shots, leading to the protests in Canberra. While the anti-vaccination demonstrators claim their numbers have reached more than 100,000 at times, local media put the total number of attendees is closer to a few thousand.

Sunday’s demonstrations followed weeks of incidents across the capital involving the protesters, including multiple clashes outside Australia’s Parliament House and attempts to blockade the National Press Club on Tuesday when Prime Minister Scott Morrison was making a speech.

On Dec. 30, the doors of Canberra’s Old Parliament House were set on fire during an anti-vaccination demonstration.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

All Comments 6

  • Great to see the Australians , Canadians , French , Italians , Germans, Dutch and Austrians etc standing up for their human rights . These protests are anti mandates not anti vax . Much strength to all of them.

    • Mr Varrie. Arrant nonsense. These thugs are mostly the fringe of society. Note: with 94% of Wallies vaxxed, it is truly an aggressive, anti-social element acting this way. These people do not stand for freedom. Just look at the line-up. They are bullies… The waving of Trump flags should give you a hint at the type of idiots we have congregating.

      • Johann Olivier – Calling them names does not undo their argument. Whatever their grievance, right or wrong, in a liberal democratic society they have an inalienable right to protest an injustice. A government removing the freedom of choice under dubious justification is most definitely an injustice, and one that can lead to some very dark places (as history shows us time and time again). If you value your freedoms, you must let others value theirs as well.

  • Poor Aussies such a downtrodden society, with such a shoddy Government – not.

    Maybe Aussies should be allowed of their Rock and allowed back into the world just to get a sense of what’s happening everywhere else.

  • It seems that many governments can now see that the pandemic is all but over and are running out of time to erode the civic freedoms of their citizens, and are thus desperately falling into deeper tyrannical means to try to normalise their tyranny. It is with profound grief that I watch these Western governments, the very ones that are supposed to uphold the gold standard of free and open societies, fall so far from what we are supposed to value the most: the freedom to pursue our own happiness.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted