Australian drivers have taken inspiration from a ‘Freedom Convoy’ in Canada to drive to Canberra and protest against vaccine mandates – but Victoria’s Premier has warned booster shots will soon be mandatory.
Protesters from all around the country arrived in the nation’s capital on Monday as part of the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ demonstration.
The convoy of cars between Pheasants Nest, NSW and the capital trailed for several kilometres.
A police officer attempts to stop a vehicle from driving on the lawns of Parliament House during the protest
The truck had the words ‘convoy for freedom’ written on the side and carried several flags
Police monitor protesters as they gather on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra, Monday
The nationwide protest mirrors the 50,000 strong truckers who travelled to Ottawa, the capital city in Canada, to demonstrate against vaccine mandates and lockdowns at the weekend.
It comes as Daniel Andrews warned booster shots may soon be required for Victorians to be considered fully-vaccinated.
‘There has already been some mandating done for third doses, and there will be more,’ Mr Andrews said on Sunday.
Two drivers have already crashed their cars as a ‘freedom convoy’ makes its way to Canberra to protest vaccine mandates – echoing mass demonstrations in Canada
Protestors from all around the country are expected to begin arriving in the nation’s capital on Monday as part of the ‘Convoy to Canberra’ demonstration
The nationwide protest is a direct reflection of the 50,000 strong truckers who travelled to Ottawa, the capital city in Canada, to demonstrate against vaccine mandates and Covid lockdowns
Many drivers left their homes in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia on Saturday to travel thousands of kilometres in their trucks, vans and SUVs.
Already several of them have been involved in separate accidents with one Land Rover caught in a five car pile-up near the Hawkesbury River.
Photos of the crash were uploaded to Facebook showing the front of a blue ute completely squashed and its back trailer lifted up with a Land Cruiser pinned underneath it.
A member of the convoy said the car was a write-off and described it as a ‘casualty of war’.
Protestors have flooded social media with videos showing long lines of convoys driving down highways and passing groups of cheering supporters.
One supporter said she waited with a ‘tribe’ on the Mount Street Bridge in North Sydney and waved Australian flags as a convoy passed underneath.
‘What an amazing day,’ she wrote. ‘I drove over to North Sydney to wait for the convoy to come through, half thinking I’d be there solo.
‘In no time at all a tribe appeared … and just kept growing (the photo was taken early on). It was an honour to be part of the boots on the ground today; spending an afternoon in the hot sun with people on the same page as me, waiting for another bunch of phenomenal humans to drive by.’
One truck driver set up a billboard on the back of the trailer to slam vaccinations for children.
‘Covid-19 vaccine side effects,’ it read. ‘Don’t risk your child.’
Supporters also waved banners as they cheered on the drivers passing by.
It comes as Victorian premier Daniel Andrews warned that booster shots may become mandatory in order for a resident to be considered fully-vaccinated
Protestors have flooded social media with videos showing long lines of convoys driving down highways and passing groups of cheering supporters
Photos of the crash were uploaded to Facebook showing the front of a blue ute completely squashed and its back trailer lifted up with a Land Cruiser pinned underneath it, and a Mercedes Benz hooked under the back bumper
One supporter said she waited with a ‘tribe’ on the Mount Street Bridge in North Sydney and waved Australian flags as a convoy passed underneath
Supports stand over a bridge and wave the Australian flag as a convoy passes underneath in Queensland
‘God will protect our freedom fighters,’ one of them read.
Another one read: ‘Leave our kids alone. No jabs needed – stats prove’.
ACT Police said locals had been advised to avoid the main roads with the first wave of drivers expected to reach the city by midday.
‘ACT Policing is expecting protest activity including vehicles entering the ACT via the Federal, Barton and Monaro highways this morning,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Further disruption may occur on Northbourne and Commonwealth Avenue later as vehicles move through the city towards Parliament House.
‘The protest will be monitored by police and some impact on local traffic may occur. Drivers are asked to avoid the area if possible.’
Canada’s ‘Freedom Convoy’
Up to 50,000 truck drivers drove their giant rigs into the Canadian capital Ottawa on Saturday as part of a self-titled ‘Freedom Convoy’ which started as a protest against vaccine mandates required to cross the US border
Up to 50,000 truck drivers drove their giant rigs into the Canadian capital Ottawa on Saturday as part of a self-titled ‘Freedom Convoy’ which started as a protest against vaccine mandates required to cross the US border.
The movement received an endorsement Thursday from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who tweeted, ‘Canadian truckers rule’ and the movement has become a cause celebre for many on the right of politics in the United States.
Flying the Canadian flag, waving banners demanding “Freedom” and chanting slogans against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the truckers were joined by thousands of other protesters angered not only by Covid-19 restrictions but by broader discontent with the government.
There was an enormous clamor as hundreds of big trucks, their engines rumbling, sounded their air horns non-stop. Estimates of the number of truckers range from 10-20,000.
Closer to Parliament, families calmly marched on a bitterly cold day, while young people chanted and older people in the crowd banged pots and pans in protest under Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau’s office windows.
Canadian media said the prime minister and his family had been escorted out of their home and taken to a secret location in the capital, with much of the protesters’ wrath directed at Trudeau.
‘I want it all to stop — these measures are unjustified,’ said one demonstrator, 31-year-old businessman Philippe Castonguay, outside the Parliament building.