August 24, 2013
Asylum seekers have been turned into “political pawns and political victims” by the big political parties in the lead up to September 7, a refugee supporters’ rally has been told.
Around 150 protesters on Saturday rallied outside Sydney’s Town Hall against both Labor and the coalition’s policies on asylum seekers.
Addressing the crowd, Refugee Action Coalition’s Amy Thomas slammed both parties on the issue.
Many of the crowd held placards reading “Kevin: a value free zone” and “free the refugees”.
Asylum seekers had become “political pawns and political victims” in the lead up to the election, Ms Thomas said.
She was especially critical of the coalition’s plan, revealed on Friday, to “buy back” asylum seeker boats from their Indonesian owners.
“It’s not about lives, it’s about destroying lives of asylum seekers,” Ms Thomas said.
Rallies are also being held in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra on Saturday as part of a national day of action by refugee advocates.
Mark Goudkamp, a Refugee Action Coalition spokesman, said protesters were planning to march on Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s Sydney office on August 31.
There was “a lot of disquiet” in the ALP on the issue, Mr Goudkamp said.
The opposition on Friday revealed a “boat buyback” scheme would be part of a coalition government $420 million regional policy to cut off the people smuggling trade.
Labor wants PNG to settle all asylum seekers found to be refugees, after processing on Manus Island.
The crowd later swelled to about 250 for a very vocal march through the Sydney CBD, under police escort.