A large crowd gathered at Perth’s Forrest Place, joining anti-lockdown protests across the country.
Carrying signs with slogans such as “Coercion is not consent,” protesters denounced COVID-19 lockdowns in other states, the coronavirus vaccine and vaccination warrants.
Nine News Perth reporter Kelly Haywood said the crowd gathered at the CBD shopping center around noon and numbered around 1,000.
While Perth is not locked down and COVID-19 restrictions in Western Australia are minimal – aside from closed borders with several eastern states – crowds have expressed support for other protests across the country Saturday, like those in New South Wales and Victoria, which saw clashes with police as officers tried to prevent the rallies.
Among the anti-vaccine talking points and many red Australian flags fluttering in the chilly breeze of a cloudy day were conspiracy theory tropes urging people to do their own “research” and signs pouring contempt on them. mainstream media reporting on the coronavirus pandemic.
Support for political parties was also slim on the ground, except for a few signs in favor of Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party – of which MP Craig Kelly was recently reprimanded by the country’s medical regulator for using extracts from TGA in unsolicited text messages – and there was the telltale orange of a One Nation supporter among the crowd, accompanied by a large cutout of party leader Pauline Hanson.
The most vitriolic, however, was reserved for vaccine mandates.
Signs such as ‘Healthcare workers say no’ targeted the Western Australian government’s decision to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all healthcare workers – including food providers – by the end of the year.
When the policy was announced earlier this year, the secretary of the Australian Nursing Federation in Western Australia, Mark Olsen, backed the move, but predicted that between seven and eight percent of nurses would choose not to get vaccinated, which would put more strain on an already strained system.
Chief health officer Andy Robertson believed that there were only about 1.5% of health workers “philosophically opposed” to the vaccine.
Dr Robertson predicted at the time that there would likely be a small impact on the system when workers left, but said a COVID-19 outbreak in hospitals would have a “much more crippling effect.”
WA on Saturday reported a new case of COVID-19 in a traveler returning to hotel quarantine.