The first thing that needs to be said about the days of civil disobedience that have rocked Melbourne is that few people would have expected to see such scenes in Australia.
While there have been isolated anti-lockdown protests since the pandemic began, this type of extended civil disorder is new. The adoption of hi-vis jackets as a symbol of discontent is reminiscent of the "gilets jaunes" riots in Paris.
The mob, made up of disaffected construction industry workers objecting to mandatory vaccination and a two-week shut down of their industry, and a "rent-a-crowd" of anti-vaxxers, anarchists and ultra right-wing trouble makers, has stretched Victorian police to the limit.
Despite the notice provided by Monday's assault on the CFMEU headquarters, authorities badly underestimated the numbers of those who seized central Melbourne on Tuesday in a riot that produced genuinely disturbing images and reports.
These included a journalist being hunted down and assaulted, attacks on police cars and a police dog, and terrified motorists holed up in their cars while rebels without a clue held an impromptu street party on the West Gate Bridge.
And, despite a police promise not to repeat Tuesday's "cat and mouse" games, Wednesday delivered more of the same - even though the mob was significantly smaller.
By mid-afternoon, hundreds of mainly angry young males had seized control of the area around the iconic Shrine of Remembrance on St Kilda Road and were in a stand-off with the authorities.
It would be very wrong to call these grave disturbances "protests"; they are an orchestrated attempt to use social disruption to force a legitimate government to do the bidding of a tiny minority. Street terrorism would be a better description.
Dan Andrews nailed it when he said the rabble was not representative in any shape or form. On the same day 2000 self-centred individualists took to the streets, more than 90,000 Victorians were vaccinated in order to hasten the end of the lockdowns.
These events have thrown a spotlight on the willingness of many in the government - from the Prime Minister down - to turn a blind eye to anti-vaxxer, anti-mask, and anti-lockdown propaganda on the spurious grounds of freedom of speech.
While we understand the PM has other things on his plate right now, why did it take him until Wednesday afternoon to condemn the rioters? His silence, like that of acting PM Barnaby Joyce, was Trumpian.
Both men need to get off the fence and pull the rug out from under those within their own ranks, including George Christensen, who are deliberately undermining the national vaccine push. Freedom of speech has never given anybody the right to cry "fire" in a crowded theatre.
Industrial Relations Minister Michaelia Cash could have done a lot more to support the Victorian government and the CFMMEU officials appealing for reason than just reverting to union-bashing on Tuesday.
John Setka, for once, was on the side of the angels. He didn't incite this riot; it was his headquarters that was being besieged, and he was the target.
The similarity between what has happened in Melbourne and what happened in Washington on January 6 is that both outbreaks of violence were based on a big lie.
Until the government shows leadership by shutting down those who are gaslighting people who don't watch daily press conferences and who don't get their news from the mainstream media, the disturbances will continue.
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