Daniel Andrews has been accused of causing ‘distress and chaos’ by shutting down construction for two weeks, putting 320,000 workers out of a job.
The Victorian government said the move was needed to stop the spread of Covid because too many workers are breaking social-distancing and mask-wearing rules.
There are 403 Covid-19 cases linked to Victoria’s construction sector, across 186 sites.
Victoria recorded 603 new cases on Tuesday, its highest total since 725 on August 5 last year.
Daniel Andrews has been accused of causing ‘distress and chaos’ by shutting down construction for two weeks, putting 320,000 workers out of a job
Protesters clashed with police on Monday in Melbourne to demonstrate against mandatory vaccination
But Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas admitted anti-vaccination protests by a minority of construction workers – who demonstrated violently outside a union headquarters on Monday and stormed the streets again on Tuesday – also prompted the shut down.
‘There’s been a very serious set of behaviours including on our streets which, in itself, is a public health risk,’ he said, noting that ‘abhorrent behaviour’ was carried out by a ‘minority’ of tradies.
Federal Housing Minister Michael Sukkar said the move was unfair on the majority of law-abiding workers.
‘Today, more than 320,000 Victorian workers in the building and construction industry – representing 9.3 per cent of all Victorian jobs – are seemingly being punished for the actions of a violent minority of CFMMEU protesters yesterday,’ he said.
‘Having suffered some of the longest lockdowns anywhere in the world, the last thing Victorians need at this time is more distress and chaos.
‘Whether it’s the apprentice carpenter from Frankston, the brickie from Geelong or the concreter from Ballarat, these Victorians should not be made to suffer as retaliation for the actions of violent protesters in Carlton yesterday.
‘Not to mention the first home buyers, renovators and home builders who will suffer financially as a result of their projects being delayed and lives disrupted.’
A heavy police presence is seen on Elizabeth Street during a protest at the CFMEU headquarters on Monday
Hundreds of protesters have started to gather outside CFMEU’S union head office on Tuesday
The federal government expects the shut-down will cost $2.2 billion in construction activity and almost $640 million in lost wages over two weeks.
Union officials say the protest was run by far-right groups pretending to be tradies who are furious about laws which require construction workers to get vaccinated.
On Friday the Victorian Government announced that construction workers will need to show evidence to their employer that they have had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 11.59pm on September 23.
Mr Andrews was accused of ‘hiding’ from the media on Tuesday by failing to appear at a Covid press conference.
Mr Pallas said the decision to shut construction came a week after the government put the industry on notice for non-compliance with public health orders.
‘What we have seen is a need for the government to intervene and take strong action, consistent with the chief health officer’s orders, in order to protect the community,’ he said.
‘But also to protect those workers, their workmates, their families.’
Mr Pallas said the construction workforce was young and mobile, leading to Covid spreading around the whole of Melbourne.
‘We put the industry on notice, you’ll recall, a week ago, that we needed to see a substantial improvement,’ he said.
‘And we made it very clear then that the permitted worker status would be reviewed if, in fact, those issues failed to be adhered to.
‘Since then, we’ve seen poor compliance and further transmission sites being identified, and that just cannot continue.’
Riot police are seen outside the Victoria’s Parliament House during Tuesday’s protest, which came a day after violent demonstrators damaged the CFMEU head office in Melbourne’s CBD
Police with riot shields monitored Tuesday’s rally, where demonstrators were told over loudspeaker ‘leave now or more force may be used’
Anti-vaxxer protesters have chased police and pelted squad cars with cans as rallies on the streets of Melbourne descended into chaos for the second day running.
Footage showed tradesmen in hi-vis clothing kicking police cars in the Melbourne CBD as thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Victoria’s Parliament House.
A Channel 7 TV reporter was earlier assaulted by a protester and had bags filled with urine thrown at him.
Construction workers and anti-vaxxers took to the streets for the second consecutive day on Tuesday – many of them distraught after a tradesman took his own life at a construction site earlier in the day.
Demonstrators sung Advance Australia Fair and chanted ‘f*** the jab’ in protest against mandatory vaccination orders for the industry, and Premier Daniel Andrews’ decision to shut the industry down for two weeks, amid soaring case numbers.
The protest began outside the boarded up head office of the construction union, the CFMEU, which was badly damaged by violent demonstrations just 24 hours before.
More than 100 police officers walked up Swanston Street in pursuit of the crowd, with officers warning demonstrators on a loudspeaker to turn back.
‘Attention, this is a police public order warning. You have previously been directed to leave,’ an officer inside a line of riot police and officers on horseback told the crowd.
‘Leave now or force may be used. No further warnings will be given.’
By 2.30pm the protest had reached the Westgate Freeway – a vital artery into the city – with demonstrators bringing traffic to a standstill as they marched across the bridge.
In chaotic scenes, a person riding a motorcycle was seen tearing up and down the highway on the wrong side of the road on one wheel before making an escape down a exit ramp.
The mood in the crowd was dark, a Croatian man having earlier taken his own life at a building site in West Melbourne hours after the Premier’s shut down was announced.
The worker is believed to have died by suicide at the Crema Construction site near Roden Street, with the company declining to comment.
Tradesmen later took to the Westgate Freeway – a vital road artery into the city – to rally against vaccine mandates and the two-week shutdown of their industry
Protesters lit flares as they converged on the streets of the Melbourne CBD for the second ‘freedom’ rally in as many days
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