Thousands of people have gathered at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Perth, as fewer numbers of people gathered for similar events in other cities, including for rallies not given permission to go ahead.
Deputy Prime Minster Michael McCormack had one last stab at trying to deter people from attending another series of protests across the country, fearing it could spark a second wave of the coronavirus
“These people who want to go into protest, they ought to think long and hard about their actions,” he said in Tumut, NSW, where he was on the Eden-Monaro by-election campaign trail with his Nationals candidate Trevor Hicks on Saturday.
“The courts say no. The chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, says no. Common sense would dictate to them that they should be staying at home.”
His plea came as another five COVID-19 cases were reported in two states.
Prof Murphy has repeatedly urged people not to take to the streets after thousands turned out across the country last weekend for Black Lives Matter rallies, saying such events “really are dangerous”.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese agreed, saying people shouldn’t protest in the current climate and should follow the health advice.
“There are a range of ways you can have your say without breaching the advice of the health experts,” he said in Queanbeyan on Saturday while also campaigning with Labor candidate Kristy McBain.
Despite health warnings over coronavirus, thousands have gathered in Langley Park for the city’s second Black Lives Matter protest.
Aboriginal elders and leaders are among those who spoke to the crowd.
Brisbane asylum seeker protest
About 300 protesters have blockaded a Brisbane hotel, accusing the government of seeking to silence detained asylum seekers by moving them.
Supporters of about 120 detainees have vowed to continue preventing authorities from accessing the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel.
Protest organisers are demanding the government immediately cease transferring the asylum seekers and return people who’ve already been moved.
“The reason they are transferring them is because they have caused so much noise,” protest spokeswoman Ruby Thorburn told reporters on Saturday.
“It is really important that we continue to maintain that.”
Protesters claim authorities are intent on relocating asylum seekers who’ve staged a series of balcony protests over their long-term detention at the hotel.
About 40 men holding signs stood on the hotel’s balconies waving as the protest kicked off.
Some of those at the hotel have been in detention for years after coming to Australia for medical treatment.
The organisers are also demanding the men be granted freedom of movement.
“They cannot go out to exercise for their health. We demand they be allowed to walk around and get some fresh air,” protest spokesman Sam Watson said.
The protest commenced on Thursday night and continued on Friday.
Trucks and other vehicles leaving the hotel precinct were searched to ensure no asylum seekers were inside.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk previously warned people not to attend the rally due to coronavirus fears.
“It is essential we come out now. These men are in a dire situation. They are in a close confined place. They cannot socially distance,” Mr Watson said.
“The guards coming in and out are not isolating, so anything they pick up comes into the hotel and it spreads like wildfire.”
Ms Thorburn said organisers had negotiated with police and were handing out masks and hand sanitiser in an attempt to reduce transmission of the virus.
“We are reminding people that we are in a pandemic and it is important to be mindful,” she said.
Melbourne refugee protests
Protesters have met across eight Melbourne locations to call for freedom for refugees stuck in indefinite detention.
At a hotel in the northern suburb of Preston, Mantra Bell City, where some refugees have been held for at least seven months, up to about 30 protesters stood outside.
Asylum seekers who were transported from Manus Island for medical treatment could be seen peering out of hotel windows to watch the rally.
A former refugee from Sri Lanka told the rally in a speech that detention centres and hotels housing asylum seekers are “basically prisons designed to inflict pain on people whose only crime is to seek asylum”.
The protesters have unfurled a banner off the side of a house facing the hotel which reads: “Free the hostages from Mantra Hotel, they are not criminals”.
In Sydney, the Refugee Action Coalition attempted to flout a Supreme Court ban, defying a police warning they will be out in force if protests proceed.”
“Join an exercise protest by riding your bike, walking or jogging in small groups around the block around Sydney Town Hall,” RAC posted to Facebook.”…If people try to stop you and ask if you are part of the protest, you can tell them you are simply exercising, which is not illegal.”
However, the turnout was very small, and there was a large police presence at Sydney’s Town Hall.
Last night one person was arrested when a few hundred people who turned up at a rally were moved on by hundreds of police. Another person was arrested today.
Sydney held a massive BLM protest last week, which was allowed at the last minute.
Adelaide Black Lives Matter protests
A small number of South Australians have defied coronavirus restrictions by attending a Black Lives Matter rally despite the protest being cancelled after an exemption for the event was denied.
Police officers, mounted on horses, watched over Victoria Square in Adelaide’s CBD on a wet Saturday as about 30 protesters chanted while holding signs and wearing masks.
There was no indication that anyone was warned or fined as a result of their behaviour.
A protest has also been held in Darwin, in the Northern Territory, with hundreds of people attending.