July 22, 2013
Protesters angry at Labor’s new policy on asylum seekers have confronted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outside the ALP Caucus meeting in Sydney.
A group of noisy demonstrators gathered outside the Balmain Town Hall where Mr Rudd briefed his colleagues about the new policy.
They were angry about the Prime Minister’s plan to send all asylum seekers who arrive by boat to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.
The demonstrators yelled “Shame Labor, shame” and called Mr Rudd a “racist coward”.
Their cries got louder and police were forced to hold them back as the Prime Minister arrived.
One of the demonstrators, known only as Patrick, said he had burnt his Young Labor membership card in protest at the asylum seeker changes.
“Kevin Rudd has to understand that even if he does win this election it won’t be with the support of any authentically left-wing member,” he said.
“Every left-wing member with a conscience has to walk out. It’s just impossible.”
Ian Rintoul from asylum seeker advocacy group Refugee Action Coalition also took part in the protest.
“People are disgusted,” he said.
“There was a word that was used over and over again it was ‘hypocrite’ because of the scale of what Kevin Rudd is doing.
“(It) just beggars belief that it would be a Labor government that would be trying to turn away every asylum seeker from Australia.”
It just beggars belief that it would be a Labor government that would be trying to turn away every asylum seeker from Australia.Ian Rintoul from the Refugee Action Coalition.
Labor backbencher Shayne Neumann was one of the MPs arriving at the meeting who welcomed the policy.
“This is a good outcome and I think the Prime Minister is on the right track,” he said.
Labor senator Doug Cameron supports it too but acknowledges it is a difficult move for the party.
“No-one is doing this with great joy. It’s a real tough gig,” he said.
Today’s Caucus also discussed Mr Rudd’s plan to give party members an equal say in choosing the leader and the decision to dump the fixed carbon price.
Amid growing speculation over the election date, Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Prime Minister would not call it today.