Friday November 12 2004 13:00am WST
For Immediate Release
A massive contingent of refugee advocates, supporters and activists is expected to descend on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra this Tuesday under the theme "Stand Up for Refugees" to make their presence felt during the opening day of the new parliament and the start of a new term of the Howard government.
People from all States are expected to travel - many in large groups in buses - to be present, from the RAC (Refugee Action Collective) groups of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and representatives of Perth, and from Rural Australians for Refugees, ChilOut, Project SafeCom and many other collectives and groups. Mr Ian Rintoul of RAC Sydney expects the numbers may well swell to more than 1500 to 2000.
While groups such as Project SafeCom and the group 'Women in Black' will make their presence felt from 10:30am onwards, others will arrive with buses, in time for the main speakers line-up at 12:30, convened by Big Brother protester Merlin Luck. At 11:30 the vast array of groups are expected to start their march on Federal Parliament from the pond in front of the High Court of Australia, to symbolize the grievances with the decisions of the High Court supporting the right of the Howard administration to detain asylum seekers "for the term of their natural life".
'Women in Black' will 'welcome' parliamentarians back to work as they arrive for the 10:30 start with an silent protest at the entrance, while Project SafeCom will prepare its mailout to all MP's, which will include a juicy summation of the political achievements of "The Man Who Stopped The Boats" - the politician who claims to qualify for the "boat-stopping medal" as well as a Christmas card linking the Magi at the birth of Christ to the forced deportations from Australian camps to Iran of failed asylum seekers.
The march will be likely to be a display the colourful and vast array of many alliances, including Rural Australians for Refugees groups, many of whom plan to march under their individual RAR Group banners in what promises to be a long procession from the High Court to Parliament House.
Project SafeCom spokesman Jack H Smit said that the tens of thousands of refugee advocates from around the country simply will not allow the government as well as the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to silence and manipulate public opinion over refugee issues. "The scandal once was TAMPA, then Woomera, then the traumatisation of TPV holders. Mr Smit said.
"Since the 2004 election campaign the scandal has shifted to John Howard as well as Mark Latham, who are both actively working to silence this issue. It was extraordinary to have the Great Debate, where all issues that count for voters, such as the Iraq War, ATSIC, most of the education and health issues, as well as refugee issues, were avoided for fear of a backlash."
"This Tuesday the government will be powerfully reminded that Australians will not allow Mark Latham and John Howard to bury the issues that have dug so deep into the social conscience of many Australians, that they will not be erased by spin and avoidance of the major parties."
Online Event resource:
Project SafeCom website
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Speaker segment Chair:
[Phone number posted]
Canberra RAC / Public Servants for Refugees
[Phone number posted]