Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (10:09): I rise today in support and praise of protesters from Stand Together for Justice and other groups who have been instrumental in helping gain the release of 26 refugees from detention here in Melbourne. These legal refugees spent a year in a hotel in Preston and many years prior to that in detention before being transferred to a city hotel where each night at 5.00 pm protesters met to rally for their cause. At the end of January all men were granted bridging visas, finally.
There have, however, been some questions over the tactics used by Victoria Police and the Melbourne City Council at these protests. Several activists were fined using rarely enacted council by-laws that were written to govern noise levels around buskers and their use of portable speakers and megaphones. I would hope that there would be some common sense and discretion used to quietly do away with these frivolous penalties.
All those who dedicated themselves to the release of these men should be immensely proud of the work they have done. Sadly, the fight will continue until all those who seek asylum on our shores are dealt with in the humane way all Australians expect.