Australian anti-vaccine protesters compare state government to Nazis

Several thousand people demonstrated in Melbourne against the new vaccination mandates on Saturday, with some comparing the state government to the Nazis and calling for violence against politicians, local media said.

In Australia, where 83% of people aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, vaccinations nationwide are voluntary. But states and territories have mandated vaccination for many occupations and have prohibited the unvaccinated from participating in activities such as dining out and concerts.

The Melbourne rally against the vaccination mandate that went into effect on Saturday, which requires construction workers in the state of Victoria to be fully vaccinated, was peaceful, Age said the newspaper.

But a reporter posted a video on Twitter of a protester carrying a mock gallows with three ropes dangling from it, and the newspaper showed a protester carrying a poster depicting Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews with a Hitler mustache and the hashtag #DictatorDan.

“We are being ruled by crazy medical bureaucrats,” Craig Kelly, former member of parliament for the Liberal Party and now leader of the United Australia party, told the rally, media reported.

Health worker prepares a Covid-19 vaccine at a Clalit temporary healthcare facility in Jerusalem, September 30, 2021. (Credit: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH90)

Age They said some protesters called for violence against politicians, but did not offer details.

Andrews’ office and organizers of the protest could not immediately be reached for comment.

Australia has seen frequent, occasionally violent, demonstrations against vaccines in recent months, although the movement remains small, with polls showing national opposition in the single digits.

Victoria, the second most populous state with a quarter of Australia’s 25 million people, has a vaccination rate of 87% and has endured six COVID-19 crashes totaling nearly nine months.

Australia’s high vaccination rates were key in its decision to partially reopen international borders this month for the first time during the pandemic.

New South Wales, the most populous state, said it will host a group of vaccinated international students on December 6. The Victorian government also aims to bring back some international students before the end of the year.

1,221 new infections were reported Saturday in Victoria and four deaths, and 250 daily cases in New South Wales. Despite the Delta outbreaks that led to months of lockdown in the two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, the national tally of just under 190,000 infections and 1,591 deaths is far lower than that of many developed nations.

Neighboring New Zealand, which is also learning to live with the coronavirus through high vaccination rates, reported 175 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 8,121. There have been 33 deaths in total.

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