Labor members of parliament are being challenged to defend party policy by Illawarra refugee activists.
The RAC will hold a rally in Crown St, Wollongong, on Saturday, July 23, to draw attention to federal opposition policy.
“Refugee Week falls at a really important time because the ALP National Conference is going to be debating refugee policy at the end of July, and we have a really clear message to put forward,” RAC member Jordan Humphreys said.
“We will be arguing that the detention system needs to be totally restructured.”
Wollongong Socialists founder Chloe Rafferty said the rally would target the Labor Party because it has the same refugee policy as the Liberal Party.
“Aside from a little rhetoric, and that they don’t sound exactly like Peter Dutton – on paper, they have the exact same policy as the Liberal Party,” she said.
“They support turning refugee boats back into the middle of the ocean, and they support the mandatory detention of refugees.”
Mr Humphreys said the rally would stop at local Labor Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird’s office.
“We are stopping out the front of Sharon Bird’s office to bring forward some points we think she should raise at the conference,” he said.
“We want to emphasise that refugees should be allowed to come to Australia.”
Ms Rafferty said she doesn’t believe the policy will change, but rally would put pressure on the ALP and the government.
“Yesterday, the Victorian State Labor Party had their conference and a section of left wing delegates wanted to raise emotion to debate to shut down detention facilities,” she said.
“This was quashed. They refused to even deal with discussion of a more human policy.
“That’s why I don’t have much faith at all that Labors policy will change any time soon. I guess that’s what our movement is all about, putting pressure on the government.”
Illawarra Greens councillor Mithra Cox said the rally was about saving lives.
“Refugees are people who flee because they are genuinely fearing for their lives, and we need to be offering safe harbor for these people,” she said.
“We have a social system where things don’t just happen by themselves. We need social movements if we want to see change.”
Mr Humphreys said there would be a collection of events during Refugee Week.
“As well as the rally, there will be a Staging Post film screening earlier in the week, as well as multicultural dinners and public forums being held,” he said.