Protesters rally at Kirribilli House
April 8, 2007 – 1:19PM
The Age (Melbourne)
About 50 protesters have rallied outside the Prime Minister's Sydney residence to speak against the Howard government's policies on war, climate change, immigration and industrial relations.
The speakers included Greens senator Kerry Nettle and refugee activists highlighting an on-going hunger strike at Sydney's Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.
The Prime Minister, John Howard, is in Canberra at the Lodge.
Senator Nettle told the peaceful protest that the Greens would introduce a private members bill to establish a process for recognising and accepting climate refugees in Australia.
“As the major Pacific power, Australia must pull its weight in assisting our Pacific neighbours who will be the first to be displaced by climate change,” she said.
“Already the inhabitants of the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea are being relocated because of rising sea levels and New Zealand has an immigration program for climate refugees from Tuvalu and Kiribati.”
Senator Nettle said the Greens would push for a climate refugee visa if it gained the balance of power in the Senate at this year's election.
The protesters marched away from Kirribilli House to a local park after an hour or so of speeches.
The group representing the immigration detainees are due to meet at noon on Monday outside the Villawood Detention Centre to show solidarity for the hunger strikers.
Nine people remain on a hunger strike, taking only water, while up to six others are refusing meals and liquids as they protest against recent deportations.
The hunger strikers have asked for an end to forced deportations, an end to mandatory detention, and for the immigration department to provide information about the fate of those deported.