The Refugee Action Coalition Sydney (RACS) has called for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to be sacked after he rejected New Zealand’s bid to resettle 150 asylum seekers.
The protest follows the recent fallout of the resettlement deal with the US that saw over half of the refugees interviewed by US officials rejected for their Iranian or Somalian heritage because of U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban.
Mr Dutton has claimed that resettling refugees from offshore detention in New Zealand would be a “backdoor entry into our country”.
It's claimed two Iranian refugees in offshore detention on Nauru last week attempted to commit suicide after the rejection.
Protestors gathered in Sydney on Wednesday where Mr Dutton was scheduled to speak at a private forum for The Sydney Institute, chanting “say it loud, say it clear – refugees are welcome here”.
RACS spokesperson Ian Rintoul said the deal with the US was always flawed.
“Trumps rejection of around half the number of refugees who are on Manus Island has left Dutton and Turnbull with a lot of egg on their face,” he said.
Mr Rintoul believes that the immediate prospect for these refugees now is the offer from the New Zealand Government to resettle 150 refugees a year from offshore detention.
“There’s no reason any longer for the government to stall on sending 150 people, to accept that offer from NZ, and allow 150 people be resettled there.”
...it's about the moral failure of leadership in Australia
Speaking on 2GB, Mr Dutton said the government had not taken up that option.
“Our argument is that if people are able to market New Zealand and people can get to New Zealand, they can very quickly make it to Australia and that’s the outcome that they want,” he said.
Mr Dutton was speaking after a ship carrying 131 Sri Lankan immigrants destined for Australia or New Zealand was intercepted off Malaysia.
“As we see today that’s the equivalent of one boat, and if you’ve got 32 boats or 500 boats as arrived under Labor, then New Zealand’s not going to be able to take the numbers and people are going to end up back on our shores.”
At the protest, Mina Bui Jones, from the group Mums 4 Refugees, said it was about the moral failure of leadership in Australia.
“My children are the children of a refugee, my husband came to Australia on a boat and was welcomed here,” she said.
“I feel that the values that I was brought up with, the official values of multiculturalism and opportunity and equality for all have been betrayed and it’s heartbreaking,” Ms Bui Jones.
Mr Dutton’s office was contacted, but declined to comment.