Pro­test­ers against Aussie refugee treat­ment de­lay Par­lia­ment

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Rowdy pro­test­ers demon­strat­ing against Aus­tralia’s treat­ment of asy­lum seek­ers dis­rupted Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day, some glu­ing their hands to a rail­ing be­fore se­cu­rity of­fi­cers fi­nally wrested them out.

Around 30 demon­stra­tors shout­ing from a pub­lic gallery drowned out the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, where law­mak­ers had gath­ered for a com­bat­ive, daily 90-minute ses­sion in which op­po­si­tion leg­is­la­tors ques­tion govern­ment min­is­ters about their port­fo­lios.

Speaker Tony Smith ad­journed the sit­ting af­ter the first ques­tion for 40 min­utes while se­cu­rity of­fi­cers re­gained or­der.

An­other 20 pro­test­ers linked arms in a pub­lic area at the cen­tre of Par­lia­ment House, de­mand­ing that Aus­tralia re­set­tle refugees who at­tempt to reach its shores by boat. Se­cu­rity of­fi­cers forced them into a lift and sent them to the build­ing’s base­ment.

“We are here to­day be­cause your poli­cies are break­ing our hearts,” one pro­tester said.

Aus­tralia has de­terred refugees from com­ing by boat from In­done­sian ports by re­fus­ing to ever re­set­tle them. Aus­tralia sends boat ar­rivals to camps in the Pa­cific is­land na­tions of Nauru and Pa­pua New Guinea, where they face un­cer­tain fu­tures.

The dis­rup­tion came as Par­lia­ment con­sid­ers re­duc­ing pub­lic ac­cess to the build­ing be­cause of the se­cu­rity threat posed by ex­trem­ists.

Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and other govern­ment law­mak­ers left the cham­ber dur­ing the sus­pen­sion, while most of the op­po­si­tion Labour Party re­mained through­out.

“The rea­son the Labour Party stayed in here to­day is be­cause we will never give in to those who wish to shut this Par­lia­ment down,” op­po­si­tion leader Bill Shorten said when Par­lia­ment re­sumed. “No mat­ter what the protest, no mat­ter who tries it or what the is­sue they think it is, this is the ex­act op­po­site of democ­racy.”

Govern­ment Min­is­ter Christo­pher Pyne de­scribed the dis­rup­tion as “the most se­ri­ous in­tru­sion into the Par­lia­ment” in 20 years and asked the speaker to in­ves­ti­gate.

Turn­bull later said some pro­test­ers had used su­per glue to at­tach their hands to the rail­ing.

“It was a very rowdy protest,” he told Mel­bourne Ra­dio 3 AW.

Se­cu­rity guards ap­peared to use a liq­uid sol­vent to re­move pro­test­ers’ hands from the rail­ing.

The Whistle­blow­ers Ac­tivists and Cit­i­zens Al­liance claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the protest.

Pro­test­ers shield them­selves as po­lice fire tear gas out­side Congress, where sen­a­tors planned to vote on a spend­ing cap bill and the lower Cham­ber of Deputies was con­sid­er­ing con­tro­ver­sial an­ti­cor­rup­tion leg­is­la­tion, in Brasilia, Brazil on Tues­day. Brazil, home to Latin Amer­ica’s largest econ­omy, is suf­fer­ing its worst re­ces­sion in decades. Photo: AP

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