Melbourne protests: Thousands gather outside state parliament to protest pandemic bill, COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have converged into Melbourne to protest against the Andrews government’s pandemic bill. A counter “anti-fascist” rallying for vaccines is also underway in a separate part of the city with fears the two groups could clash.

There are fears two separate protest groups could clash as thousands of demonstrators converge into Melbourne CBD over the controversial pandemic bill and vaccination mandates.

Dozens of protesters can be seen waving Australian and American flags with some bringing their children in tow and gathering at the steps of Parliament House on Spring St in the city’s east.

Others can be seen holding Eureka flags, a banner adopted in Australian culture as a symbol of democracy, protest and other causes.

Placards such as “kill the bill” can be seen in the sea of “freedom” protesters who have been peaceful.

People can be heard repeatedly chanting “free Victoria” and “sack Dan Andrews” as they marched down Bourke St.

The pandemic bill has been stalled in the upper house as the Andrews government desperately tries to find one more crossbench member to support the bill after Adem Somyurek decided to vote against the legislation.

A separate “anti-fascist” rally is taking place at the same time in Melbourne and are planned across other Australian cities.

The group is counteracting those against the bill by marching for vaccines.

Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam and Reason Party Fiona Patten, who are supporting the pandemic bill, have endorsed the event.

Victoria Police refused to reveal how many officers are on scene monitoring the crowd but were aware of the protests.

“We respect people’s right to peacefully protect without impact on the rest of the community and will not tolerate anyone who breaks the law or engages in violent or antisocial behaviour,” a statement read.

“There will be a highly visible police presence to monitor the area and ensure there are no breaches of the peace.”

Other “freedom” rallies have been planned for major cities around the country as well as regional towns.

New South Wales Police said a high visibility operation is underway in the CBD with reports tens of thousands of protesters at Hyde Park demonstrating over vaccine mandates and previous lockdown measures that are no longer in place.

Motorists have been told to avoid Market, Castlereagh, York, Clarence, King and Macquarie streets.

A pro-vaccination  rally is also underway in Brisbane CBD with concerns they will clash with anti-vaccination protesters who have also planned to march.

More to come.

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