February 15, 202
LNP Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien has praised the behaviour of anti-vaccination mandate protesters during the recent “Convoy to Canberra”.
In speech to Parliament, Mr O’Brien described the protesters as “hard-working Australians” and called for an end to State mandates that have led to some workers who refused to get vaccinated being sacked.
“Last weekend at Parliament House, thousands of people, including constituents of Wide Bay, peacefully protested against vaccine mandates responsible for sacking teachers, road workers, police and nurses,” Mr O’Brien said.
“The Convoy to Canberra was the largest protest any had seen at Parliament House for any issue in decades.
“The people I spoke to were hard-working Australians from far and wide, who had lost their livelihoods, careers, decades of hard work and dedication, and social lives, to State Government health orders.
“We had thousands more people expressing their democratic right to peaceful protest than any other hot-button issue of late but far fewer arrests.
“They did not engage in destructive behaviour or vandalism at Parliament House or put themselves in danger.
“Much smaller protests such as Blockade Australia and Extinction Rebellion get more mainstream media attention for their causes by breaking the law.
“They vandalise the Parliament with spray paint, set prams on fire, block bridges, trespass on private property and glue themselves to roads and Parliament furnishings.
“Many came out to condemn the Convoy, but peaceful protest and freedom of assembly are fundamental tenets of democracy in Australia.
“Other countries are re-employing people who were stood down over their vaccine mandates, and it’s time the States gave our workers their jobs back.”
On December 1 last year, Mr O’Brien crossed the floor in Federal Parliament to support a motion by United Australia Party leader Craig Kelly to end vaccine mandates.
Mr O’Brien was joined in the three-man protest vote by retiring LNP Member for Dawson George Christensen.
Mr Kelly’s motion was defeated.
Mr O’Brien has previously stated he is pro-vaccination but was concerned about the effect vaccine mandates were having on small businesses.