Supporters frustrated and angry with the government’s handling of the Manus Island detention centre rallied in Brisbane today. Over 300 protesters gathered at King George Square to hear speeches, followed by a march through the city centre.
Indigenous elder and community leader Sam Watson offered a welcome to country, and also spoke of the sense of solidarity the Indigenous community feels with asylum seekers due to their common dispossession from home lands. Labour and Greens politicians spoke, condemning the inaction and secrecy of the government regarding the recent violence at Manus Island. Refugee activists and a Manus Island employee also spoke at the rally. Speaker Tim Arnot condemned Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison for failing to acknowledge murdered detainee Reza Berati by name, and called for a minute silence.
There was some negotiation with police who were unwilling to let a march go ahead due to the required paperwork not having been filed in time. It is this reporters understanding that the Peaceful Assembly act requires 5 working days notice only to ensure that an assembly can not be stopped without a court order from police, but that an impromptu assembly is still legal and that it is within police powers to allow the assembly to proceed unless there is good reason not to (public safety etc).
In the end, protesters decided they were going to march anyway, and police acquiesced.
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