Pro-refugee activists step up campaign

Issue 

BY BILL MASON

BRISBANE — On April 4, immigration minister Philip Ruddock named the Meeandah Army Stores site at Pinkenba as the preferred site for a new 200-bed refugee prison.

Although he initially claimed the new site would only house unauthorised arrivals and visa over-stayers, and should not be compared with the Woomera detention centre, he later admitted that any "boatpeople" who arrived in Queensland would be detained there.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Jim Soorley immediately denounced the plan. He said the federal government should stop wasting money locking people up. "We will be opposing it, and encouraging the people of Pinkenba to do the same", he said.

Queensland ALP Premier Peter Beattie was more equivocal, saying he would support a centre for visa over-stayers, but would oppose any "large detention centre".

Federal opposition MP Wayne Swan said he would help build protests against the centre. "I've got severe reservations about ... the placement of this facility in a built-up metropolitan area, particularly my area", he said. An April 7 public meeting of Pinkenba residents was planned to organise protests against the centre.

From Green Left Weekly, April 10, 2002.

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