The Annual General Meeting of Transfield Services (where shareholders voted to change its name to Broadspectrum) was the focus of refugee rights protests in Sydney on October 28.
The Refugee Action Coalition, along with other groups including No Business in Abuse (NBIA) protested at the meeting. Around 150 protesters were stationed at the front of the building, drawing attention from shareholders, onlookers and the media.
The company has been the focus of protest due to its ongoing role in Australia's offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. The inhumane conditions on these island prisons has long been the subject of criticism by UN Human Rights representatives, the Moss Review, a Senate Select Committee and, most recently, by Amnesty International.
Speakers at the protest included Shen Narayanasamy from NBIA and Tom Griffiths from the Newcastle University branch of the National Tertiary Education Union. A message was also read out from a detainee on Manus Island.
NBIA was recently launched to pressure Transfield/Broadspectrum to pull out of Manus and Nauru by economically isolating the company. NTEU members at Newcastle University are campaigning against the university's decision to award an $88 million, five-year contract for infrastructure management and maintenance to Transfield/Broadspectrum. The campaign is focused on protecting local jobs and conditions put under threat by large-scale outsourcing and is in line with the union's policy opposing offshore detention.
As reported previously in Green Left Weekly, Transfield/Broadspectrum's contract with the Australian government, which was up for renewal on October 31, has been worth an estimated $2.2 billion to the company over five years. The new five-year contract has been reported as being worth around $2.7 billion.
Inside the meeting, shareholders sought answers from the company's directors about its role in the government's cruel policy of offshore detention. Two activist shareholders were ejected from the meeting by security guards.
NBIA released its own report into Transfield/Broadspectrum on the eve of the AGM, which details the company's "complicity in gross human rights abuses on a massive scale, violating 47 international laws". The report outlined that months after the company began its work on Nauru, an Amnesty International team visited the camp and described it as "a human rights catastrophe ... a toxic mix of uncertainty, unlawful detention and inhuman conditions"