Second dramatic protest hit Australia parliament

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Protesters campaigning against the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers have breached parliament security for a second day.

Two protesters abseiled down Parliament House in Canberra, unfurling a banner saying “close the bloody camps now”.

Australia sends asylum seekers who arrive by boat to offshore detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

The government believes the policy prevents deaths at sea, but critics argue it is inhumane.

On Thursday, 13 more demonstrators held placards in a pond they dyed red to symbolise blood.

Last month, the Australian government rejected a human rights report comparing its asylum seeker camp on Nauru to an open-air prison.

Image copyrightABC

The protest banners on Thursday called for an end to offshore detention and the controversial policy of boat turnbacks. The demonstration lasted about two hours.

The same protest group, Whistleblowers Activists and Citizens Alliance, was responsible for forcing the suspension of parliament for 40 minutes on Wednesday.

In heated scenes, the group of about 30 demonstrators shouted the detention policy was “separating families” and “killing innocent people”.

Security guards used hand sanitiser to remove six protesters who glued their hands to railing in the public gallery.

“We are here today because you have become world leaders in cruelty,” the protesters said.

The asylum-seeker policies are supported by both the government and the Labor opposition. The issue has highly polarised public sentiment, with the majority agreeing with the government’s position.

A pro-refugee protester is handled by security outside Australia's parliament in CanberraImage copyrightABC
Image captionOne of the protesters is handled by security guards on Wednesday
Authorities confer as protesters link arms in the halls of parliamentImage copyrightABC
Image captionThe protest spilled into the halls of parliament

Both major parties condemned the interruption on Wednesday.

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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten thanked security staff for their handling of the demonstration.

“The reason why the Labor Party stayed in here today is because we will never give in to those who wish to shut down this parliament,” he said.

“This is the exact opposite of democracy.”

However, Greens MP Adam Bandt praised the protesters for their actions.

“Question Time brought to a halt as peaceful protesters hold MPs to account demanding gov #CloseTheCamps. Brave. Powerful. Proud,” he wrote on Twitter.

It comes two weeks after Australia and the US reached a resettlement deal for asylum seekers held in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Grey line

Australia and asylum

  • The number of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat rose sharply in 2012 and early 2013. Scores of people have died making the journey.
  • To stop the influx, the government adopted tough measures intended as a deterrent.
  • Everyone who arrives is detained. Under the policy, asylum seekers are processed offshore at centres on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
  • The government has also adopted a policy of tow-backs, or turning boats around.


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