Thousands of protesters return to Melbourne’s CBD to rally against vaccine mandates and new pandemic laws

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Melbourne’s CBD for a second week in a row to rally against vaccine mandates and the state’s new pandemic laws.  

Thousands of protesters are rallying outside state parliament in Melbourne’s CBD against new pandemic laws and vaccine mandates.  

It is the second week in a row demonstrators have taken to the streets of Melbourne.

There is a heavy police presence at the scene.

“Police are aware of protest activity planned in Melbourne on Saturday. There will be a highly visible police presence to ensure there are no breaches of the peace and the community is safe,” Victoria Police said in a statement. 

Protesters are holding signs including ‘kill the bill’.

The Andrews Government’s Pandemic Management Bill would give the Premier the power to declare a pandemic and extend it in three-month blocks, while bestowing upon the Health Minister unparalleled scope to enforce controversial public health orders.

The bill passed the lower house last week and it will now head to the Victorian upper house where it needs 21 votes to be passed.

The Andrews Government has 17 seats in the chamber and is believed to have the support of the Greens, the Animal Justice Party and the Reason Party – all of which have one seat each.

Victorian Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has vehemently opposed the bill declaring he would immediately repeal it should he be elected next November.

“I give an absolute guarantee: when we come back to government in this state, we will repeal this law because it is fundamentally right to do so,” Mr Guy said in parliament.

Queensland Senator and Assistant Attorney General Amanda Stoker said Mr Andrews had “doubled down on draconian powers” after nearly two years of widespread lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions.

“You’d hope that governments would be stepping back and saying, ‘how can we learn from this so that in similar situations we don’t unnecessarily confine the ability of individuals to live their lives’,” Ms Stoker told Sky News Australia’s Catherine McGregor.

“Instead in Victoria, the Andrews Government has doubled down on draconian pandemic powers and has put forward a bill that has gone through their lower house.

“It would give that government the power to confine the liberties of any individual or any group based on any attribute.”

Meanwhile, the state government has previously announcing authorised workers must be fully vaccinated by November 26.

Premier Daniel Andrews has also warned unvaccinated Victorians will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions “well into 2022”.

More to come. 

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