Good news (for a change): Protesting Qantas passengers stop refugee transfer

February 6, 2015
A 25-year-old Tamil man known as Puvaneethan waits with his minders at Melbourne airport to be transferred to Darwin.

Three passengers were removed from a Qantas flight from Melbourne to Darwin on February 2 after refusing to take their seats in protest against the transfer of an asylum seeker on the same flight.

A 25-year-old Tamil man known as Puvaneethan was being transferred from Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne to Darwin. He was distressed about being separated from his family in Melbourne.

Protesters from the Refugee Action Collective were concerned Puvaneethan could be deported from Darwin and tortured upon his return to Sri Lanka. They handed leaflets to passengers on the same flight urging them to help stop the transfer.

Three passengers who refused to sit and delayed the flight by 45 minutes were removed by police. Puvaneethan was then taken from the plane and returned to Maribyrnong detention centre in Melbourne.


The Tasmanian government has abandoned a plan to change the Defamation Act to allow corporations to sue people for “false or misleading claims about their products”. The law was widely criticised when it was announced last year. Environmentalists saw it as a way to gag them from communicating the reality of Tasmania’s forest industry with overseas buyers of its products.

Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin said the government dropped the policy because it was not supported by other states and territories.

Tasmanian Director of Civil Liberties Australia Richard Griggs said: “Tasmania will be better off without these laws and the silencing effect they would have had on freedom of speech.”

“We risked becoming a magnet for corporations seeking a jurisdiction in which they could sue and we would have been out of kilter with the rest of Australia.”


A local Aboriginal land council has won a land rights claim that has given them ownership of state-heritage listed Parramatta Gaol. The jail was first used in 1798 and is the longest serving jail in the Australia. When it was delisted in 2011, the Deerubbin land council put in a land claim for the site.

The group has not yet revealed how it intends to use the site but Registrar of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act Stephen Wright told the Sydney Morning Herald on February 3: “An Aboriginal land council is going to be very directly responsible for Sydney's white colonial heritage and they will take that very seriously.”

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