Hundreds of people have gathered in western Sydney to protest mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations as part of nationwide rallies held over the weekend.
About 500 protesters gathered on the banks of the Parramatta River on Sunday, with many wearing white T-shirts and holding placards with anti-vaccine messages such as “My Body My Choice”.
NSW Police said the march, which began at 10am and ended at 2.30pm, was peaceful and no arrests were made.
In NSW, 93.9 per cent of people aged over 16 have had at least one dose of vaccine and 89.7 per cent are fully vaccinated.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was selfish to attend anti-vaccine demonstrations and to refuse to be vaccinated without a “medical justification”.
“It is quite dangerous to get out there and to demonstrate when we know that this virus is extremely capable of transmitting and you may end up being a victim,” he said.
“I am extremely frustrated when I hear of people getting out and having demonstrations to put themselves at risk because they’ll end up quite possibly in an ICU bed or a hospital and they put our health staff at risk.
“It’s not just about you folks. It’s also about looking after the rest of the community, particularly those health staff (because) when you’re in deep trouble, you’ll be actually looking to them to keep you safe.”
Protests were planned for other NSW locations as well as for Adelaide and the Gold Coast, following a day of rallies in Melbourne and Darwin on Saturday.
In the Victorian capital, some 3000 people marched through the city centre chanting “free Victoria” and “Sack Dan Andrews” as they called for the resignation of the premier.
The demonstrators in Melbourne voiced their opposition to vaccine mandates and the government’s proposed pandemic legislation, which would allow the premier to declare a pandemic and the Health Minister to make public health orders.
A large group of protesters gathered on Saturday at Bundilla Lake in Darwin, some of whom were reported to have thrown rocks at police before they were doused in capsicum spray.
Northern Territory Police said on Sunday they had charged seven people in relation to “riotous behaviour”, with offences including aggravated assault and breaching the chief health officer’s directions.
Darwin has been under a “lockout” this weekend – banning unvaccinated people from leaving home apart from a few essential reasons to do so – as health officials work to contain a small Covid-19 cluster.