Australian parliament Covid rules could block entry of anti-vaccine protesters | Australian politics


Anti-vaccine protesters’ hopes of presenting a list of ‘grievances’ to federal politicians could be dashed by the Federal Parliament’s Covid safety rules, with the Prime Minister not planning to meet a delegation backed by former Liberal MP Craig Kelly .

Kelly, the leader of the United Australia party, confirmed his party was providing free food to protesters and was considering funding a $10,000 public address system for future rallies. Coalition MPs Gerard Rennick and George Christensen said they plan to join anti-mandate protesters this week, while One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts gave a speech on the parliament lawn on Monday.

Large protests outside the building are expected on Tuesday as the Federal Parliament resumes for the year.

Protests against vaccines and vaccination mandates continued in Canberra for a seventh day on Monday, with thousands of protesters camping out across the city. Hundreds of protesters picketed the Governor General’s residence, Government House, demanding that he sack the federal government.

At Saturday’s large protest at the Old Houses of Parliament, a spokesman said federal politicians would address further rallies in the coming days and signaled plans to enter Parliament to try to meet the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, and Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese.

Kelly told the Guardian Australia on Monday that he hoped to speak at a rally this week and that he planned to sign “a small group” of protesters to parliament on Tuesday, including one who on Saturday called the building ” satanic”. In response, Kelly said “everyone is entitled to a little hyperbole”.

“The protesters are finalizing a list of grievances or demands from the prime minister, basically that the prime minister end the terms,” Kelly said.

“The prime minister, the leader of the opposition, they’re both in the same boat.”

A group involved in the protests is asking its supporters to sign an open letter criticizing Covid vaccines, which they say will be “presented to the Prime Minister on Tuesday”. The letter claims that the protesters “will drive hundreds of thousands into hiding from you and we will take back this country for the people.”

Kelly said he has yet to contact Morrison’s or Albanese’s offices to request a meeting.

Morrison’s office said the prime minister had no plans to meet with protesters. Albanese’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

But Covid safety rules enacted by Speakers of Parliament could initially derail Kelly’s plans. A declaration from January 27, visitors can only be registered in the building for “essential meetings” and once the meeting is over, the guest must be escorted again.

“If the visitor has a subsequent meeting with another office, they must be re-registered at the security entrance by a representative from that other office,” the statement said.

For a meeting with Morrison or Albanese, protesters would have to be specifically signed by their offices – an unlikely scenario. Face masks are also compulsory inside Parliament.

In video of a Sunday night protest campsite seen by Guardian Australia, Kelly told protesters he had “friendly donors” who could help pay for food trucks, coffee carts or ice cream for the rallies. A protest leader also demanded $10,000 for a public address system for other rallies.

Kelly said the UAP was hosting a free barbecue with drinks at the protesters’ campsite on Monday and “trying to arrange” money for the public address system.

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ACT Police have warned that “protest activity is expected to increase in the coming days”, with more protesters expected to arrive in Canberra.

In an Instagram video, one of the protest leaders, Graham Hood – who introduced himself as a ‘spokesman’ for the rally – told supporters to stay peaceful and that the forecourt area near the Entrance to Parliament was ‘off limits’.

“Stay on the grass…if you have other intentions, then we’re not speaking for you,” Hood said.

“Let’s keep it peaceful.”

Some demonstrators staged a noisy protest in the forecourt just outside the main entrance to parliament last Monday.

Rennick, who is withholding his vote from the Coalition to Protest Vaccination Mandates, told Guardian Australia he had been in contact with protest organizers and expected to deliver a speech at a gathering this week.

Christensen, who has also opposed mandates and mask rules, attended the Old Houses protest on Saturday and wrote in his blog that he will ‘join the protesters in Canberra…throughout the week’ .


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