Protesters against Aussie refugee treatment delay Parliament

AP News
Posted: Nov 30, 2016 2:15 AM
Protesters against Aussie refugee treatment delay Parliament

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Rowdy protesters demonstrating against Australia's treatment of asylum seekers disrupted Parliament on Wednesday, some gluing their hands to a railing before security officers finally wrested them out.

Around 30 demonstrators shouting from a public gallery drowned out the House of Representatives, where lawmakers had gathered for a combative, daily 90-minute session in which opposition legislators question government ministers about their portfolios.

Speaker Tony Smith adjourned the sitting after the first question for 40 minutes while security officers regained order.

Another 20 protesters linked arms in a public area at the center of Parliament House, demanding that Australia resettle refugees who attempt to reach its shores by boat. Security officers forced them into a lift and sent them to the building's basement.

"We are here today because your policies are breaking our hearts," one protester said.

Australia has deterred refugees from coming by boat from Indonesian ports by refusing to ever resettle them. Australia sends boat arrivals to camps in the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea, where they face uncertain futures.

The disruption came as Parliament considers reducing public access to the building because of the security threat posed by extremists.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and other government lawmakers left the chamber during the suspension, while most of the opposition Labor Party remained throughout.

"The reason the Labor Party stayed in here today is because we will never give in to those who wish to shut this Parliament down," opposition leader Bill Shorten said when Parliament resumed. "No matter what the protest, no matter who tries it or what the issue they think it is, this is the exact opposite of democracy."

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Government Minister Christopher Pyne described the disruption as "the most serious intrusion into the Parliament" in 20 years and asked the speaker to investigate.

Turnbull later said some protesters had used super glue to attach their hands to the railing.

"It was a very rowdy protest," he told Melbourne Radio3AW.

Security guards appeared to use a liquid solvent to remove protesters' hands from the railing.

The Whistleblowers Activists and Citizens Alliance claimed responsibility for the protest.

The speaker did not immediately respond to a request for information about what happened to the protesters after they were taken away.