Offshore detention ruling provokes local fury
WEDNESDAY'S High Court ruling that offshore asylum seeker detention was legal has provoked a series of rallies across the country, with more than 200 people gathering in Lismore demanding an end to offshore processing of refugees.
Lismore's rally outside Page MP Kevin Hogan's office focused on the 267 asylum seekers in Australia - including 91 children, and 37 babies born here - set to be deported to the offshore detention centre on Nauru.
Among the protesters was Iranian asylum seeker Arak Nik, who travelled from Victoria to be at the rally in Lismore.
Mr Nik, who survived a perilous boat journey from Indonesia to Christmas Island in August 2012 before spending six months in a detention centre, said the millions of dollars the government spent on offshore processing was an investment in human misery.
"This government hates asylum seekers - they stopped boats, that's great, it's good."
"But please, help the people at the moment here, help the people in Manus Island, help the people in Nauru.
"Help the children, give them hope… bring them here."
"They have a good future, they can help people in the community."
"I know a lot of people in Manus Island and Nauru, they're lovely people - doctors, one of them an artist, journalists."
"Don't put them in detention."
Mr Nik said he was "lucky" to be released from detention and given a refugee visa thanks to a temporary change in policy by the Gillard government before Labor lost office in 2013.
Local Lismore playwright John McPherson said the policy of offshore detention failed to reflect the values of Australian people.
"I believe a majority of people in Australia would actually see these detention centres and nothing more than a cruel and unusual punishment for people who have done nothing more than seek refugee status here in Australia," he said.
"They are coming from places of oppression and violence and the way we've treated them is internationally regarded as shameful and a lot of people in Australia regard it as shameful.
"We felt we had to make a statement immediately.
"This has only taken 36 hours to gather this many people, and it's a very passionate group of people, but we believe we represent what's going on around the country, as we saw in marches in Melbourne yesterday - thousands of thousands of people turned out immediately."
"All we've done is advertise by Facebook and word of mouth."
"We want every individual member of Parliament to show that they've got a conscience, to speak in their own party rooms, to speak in Parliament, to bring an end to what is an obscenity of policies that… both the Rudd and Gillard and Abbott and Turnbull governments have supported."