Detention centre protest starts election drive

Ben Courtice (centre)

Ben Courtice, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Gellibrand, launched his election campaign on July 31 outside the Maribyrnong Detention centre.

Courtice told Green Left Weekly the Socialist Alliance calls for an immediate end to mandatory detention and offshore processing. It also supports increasing Australia’s low refugee intake to a minimum of 20,000 per year .

“Nicola Roxon, our sitting member and health minister, takes little interest in the growing evidence of a direct link between immigration detentions and deteriorating mental health of asylum seekers”, said Courtice.

“We also know that many seriously unwell refugees are kept in detention until they attempt suicide; but it is hard for them to speak out because of the punitive atmosphere.

“Maribyrnong Detention Centre should be converted to a reception centre — similar to its origins; a centre that welcomes refugees, gives people a proper start to a new life and makes us proud to be Australians.”

Refugee rights supporters holding up “Honk for Refugees” signs got an enthusiastic response from passing motorists.