Dan Andrews has failed to strongly condemn the disgraceful riots in Melbourne that have seen projectiles thrown at police cars, officers charged by rioters and traffic stopped throughout the city.
The Victorian premier released a meek statement on Tuesday night referring to the protesters’ behaviour as ‘terrible’ but only briefly referring to the violent demonstrations before again pushing his vaccine message.
‘There is no excuse for the terrible behaviour we have seen in our city over the last two days. Acts of violence and disruption won’t result in one less case of Covid – in fact it only helps the virus to spread,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘We know vaccinations are our only ticket out of this pandemic. There is no other way.’
Violent anti-vax protesters ambushed riot cops and smashed up police squad cars as construction worker demonstrations on the streets of Melbourne descended into chaos
Dan Andrews released a statement on Tuesday night referring to the protesters’ behaviour as ‘terrible’ but only briefly referring to the violent demonstrations
Protesters lit flares as they converged on the streets of the Melbourne CBD for the second ‘freedom’ rally in as many days
Riot police were then seen advancing in formation on the rioters before firing tear gas, stinger grenades and rubber bullets
ANDREWS’ MEEK RESPONSE TO CHAOS
There is no excuse for the terrible behaviour we have seen in our city over the last two days.
Acts of violence and disruption won’t result in one less case of Covid – in fact it only helps the virus to spread.
Thank you to the brave men and women of Victoria Police for their work today – and every day – to keep our community safe.
We know vaccinations are our only ticket out of this pandemic. There is no other way.
For those who think violence is the answer, I ask that you think of your fellow Victorians – doing the right thing over many months, following the advice of our health experts.
We have come too far to turn back now.
Please spare a thought for our healthcare workers who are working such long hours looking after patients, many who are struggling to breathe.
The more of us who get vaccinated, the fewer of us who will end up in hospital.
It’s as simple as that.
Violent anti-vax protesters ambushed riot cops and smashed up police squad cars as construction worker demonstrations on the streets of Melbourne descended into chaos for the second day running on Tuesday.
Footage showed tradesmen in hi-vis clothing kicking police cars and attempting to tear off their side mirrors in the CBD as thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Victoria’s Parliament House on Tuesday.
Riot police were then seen advancing in formation on the rioters before firing tear gas, stinger grenades and rubber bullets.
There have been three reported injuries to officers so far with 44 arrests, but those figures are expected to rise dramatically after the ugly and violent scenes.
Mr Andrews thanked law enforcement in his tepid statement on Tuesday night, failing to condemn the disgraceful actions of the thugs fighting them.
‘Thank you to the brave men and women of Victoria Police for their work today – and every day – to keep our community safe,’ the premier said.
‘For those who think violence is the answer, I ask that you think of your fellow Victorians – doing the right thing over many months, following the advice of our health experts.
‘We have come too far to turn back now.’
He refused to reference the damage and injuries inflicted by the mob, which the CFMEU said was fuelled by ‘Neo Nazis’ in a statement on Monday, instead pushing his vaccination agenda.
‘The more of us who get vaccinated, the fewer of us who will end up in hospital,’ he said. ‘It’s as simple as that.’
A line of police officers in masks are pictured protecting the CFMEU headquarters in Melbourne’s CBD on Tuesday
Mr Andrews thanked law enforcement in his tepid statement on Tuesday night, failing to condemn the disgraceful actions of the people fighting them
Construction workers march towards state parliament on Tuesday. Protesters have called for a royal commission into the government’s response to the pandemic
A protesters holds a sign on the West Gate Bridge that reads ‘tradies have spoken – we built this city – we will fight for Australia’
A Channel 7 TV reporter was earlier assaulted by a protester and had bags filled with urine thrown at him. The demonstrators then blocked the West Gate Bridge – a major freeway into the city – bringing traffic to a standstill at peak hour.
Building industry workers and anti-vaxxers took to the streets for the second consecutive day – many of them distraught after a tradesman took his own life at a construction site earlier in the day.
Demonstrators sung Advance Australia Fair and chanted ‘f*** the jab’ in protest against mandatory vaccination orders and Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to shut the industry down for two weeks amid rising case numbers.
The protest began outside the boarded up head office of the construction union, the CFMEU, which was badly damaged by violent demonstrations just 24 hours earlier.
MELBOURNE ANTI-VAXXER PROTESTERS’ LIST OF DEMANDS
1. Emergency state powers to be removed immediately
2. Lockdowns to end immediately
3. Mask mandate to end immediately
4. Vaccine mandates to end immediately
5. Vaccine passport to be removed
6. Immediate resignation of Premier Daniel Andrews
7. Immediate resignation of Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton
8. Immediate resignation of Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton
9. Royal commission into government’s response to pandemic
10. Charges laid against officers for ‘assaulting peaceful protesters’
11. All construction sites to resume immediately.
12. Mass distribution of invermectin, vitamins C, D, and zinc
Thousands of protesters gathered outside the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union’s head office on Tuesday
The premier refused to reference the damage and injuries inflicted by the mob, which the CFMEU said was fuelled by ‘Neo Nazis’ on Monday, instead pushing his vaccination agenda
Police with riot shields monitored Tuesday’s rally, where demonstrators were told over loudspeaker ‘leave now or more force may be used’
CFMEU Victorian secretary John Sekta’s attempts to calm down construction workers fell on deaf ears on Monday before his HQ was destroyed by thugs
More than 100 police officers walked up Swanston Street in pursuit of the crowd, with officers warning demonstrators on a loudspeaker to turn back.
‘Attention, this is a police public order warning. You have previously been directed to leave,’ an officer inside a line of riot police and officers on horseback told the crowd.
‘Leave now or force may be used. No further warnings will be given.’
By 2.30pm the protest had reached the West Gate Bridge with demonstrators bringing traffic to a standstill before breaking out into a rendition of 90s hit The Horses by Daryl Braithwaite as they marched across the bridge.
One vocal protester was heard shouting ‘this is our bridge’ as demonstrators threw a ladder across the road to block traffic.
Traffic heading inbound towards Melbourne was backed up for 6km as hundreds of cars and trucks tried to leave the freeway at Williamstown Road where police had formed a blockade.
It comes as Victoria recorded 603 new cases on Tuesday, the highest daily tally in the current outbreak and since August 2020, bringing the number of active cases to 6,000.
Victoria construction industry shut down
The shutdown was announced late on Monday following violent protests outside the CFMEU’s head office in Melbourne’s CBD over a vaccine mandate for the industry.
It applies to work sites across Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast.
Industrial Relations Minister Tim Pallas said the shutdown was required to cut down movement, reduce COVID-19 transmission and give the industry time to adapt to the new requirements.
‘We put the industry on notice just a week ago, we have seen appalling behaviour on-site and on our streets, and now we’re acting decisively and without hesitation,’ he said in a statement.
An amnesty will be in place on Monday so that a limited number of workers can attend construction sites to shut them down safely.
The government said all sites will need to demonstrate compliance with the chief health officer’s directions prior to reopening, including the requirement for workers to show evidence of having had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before they return to work on October 5.
The Property Council of Australia said the shutdown would cost the economy $1.1 billion a week.
‘The majority of construction sites and construction workers are doing everything required of them to meet the highest standards of COVID safety and have done so since the pandemic started,’ executive director Danni Hunter said in a statement.
‘Closing the industry will prevent them going to work and getting paid and it will stall projects causing immensely costly delays, putting projects and Victorian jobs at risk.’
Opposition industry spokeswoman Bridget Vallence said the Andrews government must immediately reverse its ‘panicked decision’.
‘The Liberal Nationals condemn the violent protests, but the actions of a few should not be used as an excuse to shut down an entire industry, putting tens of thousands of people out of work,’ she said in a statement.
Union officials say Monday’s protesters were not all CFMEU members and blamed ‘neo-Nazi’s and right-wing extremists’ for hijacking the event.
The protest escalated when two union officials, including Victorian construction branch secretary John Sekta, came outside the Elizabeth Street office to speak to protesters just before midday.
Mr Setka was met with boos and insults from the crowd, while some protesters hurled bottles.
‘Please calm down. Can you at least give me the respect to talk? We’re not the enemy, I don’t know what you have heard,’ he told protesters.
‘I have never, ever said I support mandatory vaccination.’
Once Mr Setka went back inside, the protesters smashed a glass door to the building.
Some said they would come to the CFMEU office every day until the union bows to their demands.
Construction sites have been a place of high spread in the latest outbreak, forcing health officials to close tearooms last week.
It comes as Victoria on Monday recorded the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in the current outbreak, with 567 new locally-acquired cases and one death – a Moreland woman in her 70s.
The state’s roadmap out of lockdown was released on Sunday, detailing small changes to restrictions when 80 per cent of Victorians aged over 16 have received a single vaccine dose.
Melbourne’s lockdown will remain in place until 70 per cent of Victorians are double-vaccinated, which is forecast for October 26.