Thursday, 17 February 2022
Parliament House: Protests
You'll be pleased to know that, having had a wisdom tooth pulled yesterday, I'm going to be speaking a bit more slowly and a little less ferociously, but speaking nonetheless. There were tens of thousands of people—perhaps even hundreds of thousands; I'm not sure—that were vilified in this place and in the press recently, and those were the people who participated in the Convoy to Canberra rally that we saw over the last couple of weeks. The media and power elites have done their best to try and trivialise that protest, and they've focused on the very, very few in the crowd who probably didn't do the right thing, whereas the vast majority did.
They trivialised the size of the crowd. Having been there on both protest days, I can tell you: if that was an NRL game, it would've been a packed house; it would've been sold out, and there would've been people wanting more tickets. It was the biggest rally I've seen in this place in the 11 years that I've been here, and that was echoed by none other than Chris Uhlmann, who said it was the biggest rally that he had seen in Canberra in the past three decades. The media tried, on the one hand, to claim that there were about 4,000 people at the protest; on the other, they were blaming them for overflowing the EPIC grounds, where most of the protesters were camping. You can't have it both ways.
Here in this place and in the media, the protesters were demonised and painted as fringe and violent, but the only violence that I saw was that committed against those protesters, with two instances of road rage, spurred on, I believe, by the biased reporting from the Canberra Times, which whipped up locals against those people. Those people were far from fringe. There were people from all walks of life, from brickies to graziers. There were occupations all over the place, and people had their tenure in those occupations written on their backs—doctors, nurses, teachers, firies and ambos who have lost their jobs due to 'no jab, no job' mandates. There were even policemen there.
These people deserve to be heard, in this place and in state parliaments as well. Their message is loud and clear, and it's one that everyone should heed. They want an end to these mandates—the 'no jab, no job' mandates, the mask mandates and all the other restrictions. The data is in, and we find that they haven't worked. The vaccine mandates didn't work. The mask mandates didn't work. It all needs to come to a crashing halt.