Anti-vax protesters take over Canberra city

February 15, 2022
Anti-vaccination protesters in Canberra on February 12. Photo: @freedom_element / Twitter

About 10,000 anti-vaccination protesters converged on Canberra in the week leading up to February 12, reaching peak disruption that day.

While the Convoy to Canberra's main focus was Parliament House, demonstrators also marched to Civic, and walked around the CBD waving flags and occasionally disrupting traffic.

According to The Guardian and the ABC, Canberra’s showground operators received $25,000 to allow protesters to camp and park the night before. Lifeline was forced to cancel its planned book fair.

The number of vehicles parked around the CBD indicated the protest was overwhelmingly an out-of-town affair. Large numbers of cars had Queensland licence plates and many cars sported slogans indicating they had travelled from towns between Cairns and Mackay, Queensland.

This is unsurprising given prominent anti-vaccine activist and Liberal-National Party MP George Christensen’s electorate of Dawson is near Mackay.

The protest was largely middle-aged and Anglo-European. Green Left’s correspondents saw a large number of family groups, many attending with children and some even brought their pets.

Framing themselves as “patriotic”, protesters carried Australian flags, many with the flag inverted, apparently symbolising distress. There were also large numbers of Australian Red Ensigns, popular with the Sovereign Citizen and other right-wing movements. Also visible were Eureka flags, Boxing Kangaroo flags, and at least one “TRUMP 2020 — MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” flag. Some protesters carried national flags of Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia.

There were large amounts of anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown and anti-mask slogans and placards, including fringe theories completely denying the existence of COVID-19. Many protest vehicles sported stickers from the Solidarity Movement of Australia, which references Solidarnosc, the anti-Communist Polish Catholic Trade Union .

While some United Australia Party (UAP) material was evident, including posters with the slogan “FREEDOM! FREEDOM!”, the party’s insignia did not dominate. Local media reported that the UAP paid for the many food and coffee trucks which protesters accessed for free.

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