Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, if you support cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees then Mums 4 Refugees will target you. Chris Graham reports.
She might be considered an icon of the ‘Labor left’, but right now, Tanya Plibersek is a target of a group of mothers, grandmothers and kids outraged by Labor’s ongoing support for the mandatory and indefinite jailing of asylum seekers.
A short time ago (1pm) the protestors from across Sydney began occupying the Deputy Leader of the Opposition’s electorate office in Broadway, on the outskirts of Sydney’s CBD.
According to organisers, the occupation “resembles a playgroup”.
Protesters intend to stay onsite until they are forced to leave by police.
Plibersek – Labor’s member for the seat of Sydney – one of the wealthiest electorates in the country – is regarded as a leading figure on the left of the ALP, however at last year’s ALP National Conference, she dropped her opposition to boat turnbacks, and avoided a vote on the floor of the national conference.
Today’s protestors are from the advocacy group Mums 4 Refugees, and participants include pregnant women, mums and their young children, and grandmothers.
Mums 4 Refugees’ demands are simple – Labor must reverse its support for boat turnbacks and offshore detention centres, which the protesters describe as “barbaric.”
Mums 4 Refugees co-convener Morgan Roche said her organisdation was genuinely non-partisan – the same group occupied Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s electorate office last month – but she noted that Labor had lost votes in the recent federal election its support of harsh refugee policies.
“A lot of people who might have voted Labor voted for minor parties or independents because of concern for refugees,” Ms Roche said.
“High-profile anti-immigrant voices have received a lot of media attention since the election, but we and many other Australians are horrified by the abuses being committed against people seeking protection here.
“We want our voices heard.
“This week we’ve seen shocking revelations about juvenile detention in the Northern Territory. We hope the Royal Commission into this kind of abuse will extend to offshore detention centres.
“Both reflect systemic racism and appalling thuggery.”
The protesters are carrying placards bearing slogans such as “No votes in abuse”, “Labour hurts but Labor shouldn’t”, “Bring them here” and “No more babies behind bars”.
Protesters plan to present Plibersek with a copy of the recent report on the treatment of women on Nauru, entitled Protection Denied, Abuse Condoned, which was released by human rights organisation Australian Women in Support of Women on Nauru.
“We are ordinary mums and grandmothers; so are the women on Nauru. They just want what is best for their kids,” said Sara Lubowitz, one of the protestors and a voter from Plibersek’s electorate of Sydney.
“As Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and especially as Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek has an opportunity and an obligation to speak out against these abuses.”