Police in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) expects crowd sizes for the “Convoy to Canberra” to peak on Feb. 8 when federal parliament resumes, with protestors expected to gather outside Parliament House.
Police say more than 3,000 demonstrators are currently in the national capital of Canberra in solidarity with the massive “Convoy to Ottawa.”
“The crowd have been generally well-behaved and peaceful,” Linda Champion, commander of ACT Policing, told reporters in Canberra.
“We're putting every resource we can towards these protesters and their activities throughout the week,” she added.
“We're asking Canberrans to plan their trips into town tomorrow and if they need to get to locations where protesters may be please allowed for additional travel time.”
However, the ACT police have made several arrests in relation to the Convoy, with one man being arrested after hitting a traffic controller with their car as the controller attempted to stop the vehicle. Another 44-year-old man was also arrested after police executed a search warrant and allegedly found a loaded, modified rifle in his vehicle.
Police said he was charged with possessing an illegal firearm and also faced multiple traffic offences related to his vehicle's roadworthiness.
This comes as the Convoy demonstrations in Australia’s capital entered a second week.
Protestors have traversed and gathered across many landmarks and major roads in Canberra in the past few days including the National Library, Parliament House, Australian War Memorial, Canberra Airport, and on Feb. 7, 500 demonstrators gathered outside Government House, the governor-general’s official residence.
Protestors removed the Australian flag outside the landmark and replaced it with the Australian red ensign—merchant ship flag—which protestors referred to as the “people’s flag.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Canberrans were hospitable and respected the right to protest, however, the chief minister warned demonstrators were “making more enemies than friends.”
“If the objective of these protesters is to win over hearts and minds, they're certainly not doing that,” Barr said in comments obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Canberra is one of the most vaccinated cities on earth, so the message from these protesters is really not gelling with Canberrans, who are educated [and] who understand the value of vaccinations as a way of protecting themselves, their families, friends, and indeed their fellow citizens.”
Many protestors have also taken to the streets of the national capital against vaccine mandates and other government-related COVID-19 restrictions.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Feb. 6, responded to her fellow party member's attendance saying she didn't agree with many of his views of late.
“I don’t think that it’s appropriate for him to be attending those sorts of rallies,” she told ABC's Insiders. “But he is a member of Parliament, he can make his own decisions in relation to that.”