Ben Fordham has called on politicians not to ignore those protesting against vaccine mandates and COVID-19 restrictions and not to write them off as a fringe element.
An estimated 10,000 protesters marched to Parliament House in Canberra on Saturday to protest against Covid rules.
The demonstrators streamed through Canberra over the weekend to assemble across several huge lawns at Parliament House, joining those who had been camped there over recent weeks.
Ben Fordham says it’s time for Australians to get on with their lives and move on from Covid restrictions
While some in the crowd were pushing conspiracy theories and fringe political views, Fordham said many had legitimate gripes about the continuation of mandates and restrictions when the pandemic was quickly ebbing away.
The number of active Covid cases in Australia on Monday was 171,835 – the lowest since New Year’s Day and 79 per cent below the number at the peak of the Omicron wave in mid-January.
‘There were plenty of fruitcakes out in force,’ Fordham said. ‘But it’s not fair to characterise all of these people as lunatics.’
‘After two years of lockdowns and restrictions, people have had enough!
‘They’re sick of government shifting the goal posts and they resent the fact that they have been separated from their loved ones.
Anti-vaccine mandate protestors dance at Exhibition Park in Canberra on February 12, 2022
‘At some point, we have to break free of COVID-19,’ Fordham explained.
‘Yes, there are the usual morons … but let’s not pretend that they make up the whole crowd. There are many more people who just want their lives back,’ Fordham explained.
‘The truth is the longer we live in this Covid coma, the more people will sign up. You can’t ignore a crowd that big.
‘It’s time to get on with our lives.’
Pauline Hanson joined the protesters on Saturday, who appeared to represent many different causes and carried a wide array of anti-authority signs, messages and flags.
Pauline Hanson (pictured beside police officers) joined thousands of anti-vaccine mandate protestors rallying outside Parliament House
Protestors in the crowd that gathered in Canberra had a diverse range of views but were united under a banner of ‘freedom’ from vaccine mandates
It is the second week anti-vaccine protestors have staged protests in the capital city.
Among the crowd were men who appeared to be former Australian soldiers, tradies, truckers, motorcyclists, evangelical religious groups, a smattering of Indigenous protestors and some MPs.
A large crowd marched on Australia’s main government buildings in Canberra as ‘freedom’ protestors called on leaders to end vaccine mandates
Many families (pictured) were at the anti-vaccine mandate protests in Canberra on Saturday
Many flew alternative Australian flags including the Eureka stockade flag, considered a general symbol of rebellion against authority, the Aboriginal flag and the red maritime ensign.
The red ensign has been adopted during anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine protests by the so-called ‘sovereign citizen’ movement, a group who believe many government laws are illegitimate and an overreach of authority.
Protestors organised using social media but arrived in person in their thousands in the nation’s capital
Up to 10,000 demonstrators, united in their opposition to compulsory vaccination, streamed through Canberra to assemble across several huge lawns at Parliament house
‘We’ve been controlled by the politicians … I’m here as an Australian fighting for my rights and my freedoms,’ Ms Hanson told 7News.
She had earlier taken to Facebook to urge protestors to join the rally.
‘I hope you’re all behind this Convoy to Canberra,’ she wrote.
‘Convoy to Canberra has arrived. Say ‘hi’ if you’re here and see me.’
It is nearly the second week anti-vaccine protestors have staged rallies in the capital city as part of the ‘Convoy to Canberra (pictured, a protestor raises a child in the air during Saturday’s demonstration)
Many flew alternative Australian flags including the Eureka stockade flag, considered a general symbol of rebellion against authority, the Aboriginal flag and the red ensign
Speaking in Sydney, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged protestors to behave in a respectful manner.
‘I want to be very clear when it comes to the issue of vaccine mandates, the Commonwealth government have only ever supported mandates that relate to aged care workers, disability workers and those that are working in high-risk situations in health system,’ he said.
‘My government has only ever supported mandates that have been recommended right across the country by the medical expert panel and our chief medical officers.
‘All other mandates that relate to vaccines have been imposed unilaterally by state governments.’
It is the second week anti-vaccine protestors have staged rallies in Australia’s capital as part of the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ (pictured, protestors at Parliament House)
Speaking in Sydney, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged protestors to carry out the rally in a respectful manner (pictured, anti-vaccine mandate protestors in Canberra)
MP Craig Kelly, who is leader of the United Australia Party, tweeted in support of the protests.
‘Tens of thousands of Freedom Fighters in Canberra saying no to human rights abuses,’ he wrote.
Great Australia party founder Rod Culleton was also at the march.
Anti-vaccine protestors on the back of a ute at the rally in front of Parliament House on Saturday
Motorcyclists roll into the centre of Canberra to join anti-vaccine protestors on Saturday as demonstrators wave an upside-down flag