Tradies who turned violent while protesting against mandatory vaccinations in Melbourne have been labelled “man babies” who “just want to cause trouble”, ahead of another expected rally on Tuesday.
The Victorian government moved to shut down the construction sector for two weeks late on Monday night following the violent protest over “concern about case numbers, transmission risk and reduced compliance”.
The shutdown applies to metropolitan Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, the Surf Coast and Mitchell Shire, including government projects such as level crossing removal sites.
Tradies and anti-vaxxers are set to rally outside the construction union’s headquarters again on Tuesday as they fight against mandatory vaccinations and an industry-wide shutdown.
Former opposition leader and federal Labor MP in Melbourne’s west, Bill Shorten, called some of the crowd “hard-right man baby Nazis” out to cause trouble while protesting on Monday.
Camera IconAngry tradies confront John Setka at the CFMEU office in Elizabeth St on Monday. David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia
“There were some who were construction workers but … there is a very small group of people, not just in Melbourne, but around the country, hard-right extremists, who are trying to weaponize the Covid lockdown,” he told the Today show.
“There is a network of hard-right man baby Nazis, people who just want to cause trouble.
“These man babies, they want to complain about the vaccination and they deserve to get the full force of everything that’s coming their way.”
Mr Shorten said nobody wanted to see the industry shut down, but there was a small number of people within construction making it impossible to function properly in the short term.
“The union was targeted because it wasn’t following the extremist ideology of a few troublemakers. The union’s actually been showing leadership and saying we want to have a safe work force and we want safe work sites,” he said.
Camera IconProtesters at the CFMEU headquarters in Melbourne. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconFormer opposition leader Bill Shorten labelled some of the group ‘man baby Nazis’. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia
Union boss John Setka also doubled down on morning television on Tuesday, labelling some of the protesters “drunken morons” and “extremists”.
“The 300,000 Victorians sitting at home for at least the next two weeks can thank all the drunken morons out there on Monday,” he told Sunrise.
“There was a small contingent of our members there, that the vast majority were people I don’t know, from neo-Nazis to professional protesters – the same ones you see on Saturday.
“They’re just itching for a fight and they just come along for a fight, drink a whole heap of alcohol and that’s the result you get, which is pretty resulting disappointing.”
Camera IconThe scenes on Monday outside the CFMEU office. David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconVictorian State Secretary of CFMEU John Setka attempts to calm the crowd. David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia
Mr Setka said the unions did not support mandatory vaccination, but supported people’s choice to be vaccinated.
He said he believed in vaccination, and the unions were pushing for vaccinations, but understood there were people that had concerns over making it mandatory.
“We have never said we support mandatory vaccination,” he said.
“It was a privilege to keep working, and a bunch of drunken morons who don’t know what they were talking about have resulted in 300,000 people sitting at home, potentially we don’t know for how long.”
Chaotic and violent scene plagued Melbourne’s CBD on Monday as angry tradies were joined by anti-vax troublemakers outside the CFMEU building on Elizabeth St.
Protesters chanted “freedom”, “my body, my choice” and labelled Mr Setka “Dan Andrews b***h” as demonstrators grew more hostile throughout the day.
Camera IconRiot police were needed at the protest. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia
Union bosses remained holed up inside the building throughout Monday and eventually the hostile group kicked in windows and doors, and hurled bottles, beer cans, crates and other projectiles at the front of the building.
People are set to return again at 10am on Tuesday.
The event is being billed as the “Victorian workers rally for freedom”.
Camera IconA man with blood on his face at the protest. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia
Camera IconCFMEU members use hoses to disperse the crowd outside headquarters in Melbourne. NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty Credit: News Corp Australia
Organisers have encouraged people attending to “wear work gear” and said the rally will continue until demands are met.
A statement from Treasurer Tim Pallas said concerns remained about the sector’s compliance with public health measures and directions.
“The immediate shutdown action is being taken to reduce movement, minimise transmission and allow for the entire industry to appropriately adapt to the chief health officer Directions, including increasing vaccination rates,” it read.
“All sites will be required to demonstrate compliance with chief health officer Directions prior to reopening – including the requirement for workers to show evidence to their employer of having had one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine before they return to site on October 5.”Internet Explorer Channel Network