30 Nov 2016

Refugee protesters with superglue suspend Australian Parliament

9:39 pm on 30 November 2016

Close to 40 people protesting against the treatment of refugees in Australia's detention centres have suspended question time in Canberra after supergluing themselves to railings at Australia's Parliament House.

A protester is forcibly removed from the building by security staff.

A protester is forcibly removed from the building by security staff. Photo: ABC / screenshot

Speaker of the House Tony Smith adjourned proceedings while security and Australian Federal Police officers removed protesters from the chamber.

Security guards forcibly dragged a number of the protesters from the public gallery with many heard screaming "don't hurt me".

Some continued to protest in the Mural Hall inside Parliament House while authorities worked to clear others from inside the chamber.

The protest did not appear to be violent, with many shouting "close the camps" and "bring them here".

They were protesting against the treatment of refugees at Australia's detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island.

"We are here today because you have become world leaders in cruelty," the protesters shouted.

The final protesters were removed from the chamber close to 30 minutes after the suspension.

Members of Greenpeace hold up a sign  in front of the Opera House in Sydney on February 14, 2016.

Members of Greenpeace protested near the Sydney Opera House a fortnight ago. Photo: AFP PHOTO / Peter PARKS

Activists from the Whistleblowers Activists and Citizens Alliance claimed responsibility for the protest.

A protester from the same group stormed a stage yelling obscenities while Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivered an economic speech in August.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the group said protesters came to Parliament House to tell the Government to "stop the madness" and close processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

Question Time restarted at 2:40pm local time and Mr Smith said he suspended proceedings "as a last resort".

"I wondered whether we could press on in the extraordinary circumstance and I made a judgement that we could not," he said.

Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne said it was the most serious intrusion into the Parliament since 1996, and apologised to the public for the disruption.

"As the person responsible for the chamber and the House I would suggest you conduct a thorough investigation," Mr Pyne said.

"If people are signed in from the public area and in many cases to the chamber, they are signed in by a member of Parliament.

"There may well be trail of where the miscreants who disrupted the Parliament came from and I think it would be important to determine that."

Greens leader Richard Di Natale thanked one protester and told her "we are so proud of what you have done".

A spokesman for Greens senator Nick McKim denied his party had any involvement in the protest.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten thanked security staff at Parliament House for their handling of the protest.

"The reason why the Labor Party stayed in here today is because we will never give in to those who wish to shut down this Parliament," he said.

"This is the exact opposite of democracy."

The Question Time protest came days after revelations authorities were planning to improve security at Parliament House amid concerns the building is vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

The restrictions, which are likely to be introduced over the summer period, received mixed reactions from politicians, with many suggesting additional security measures were unnecessary.

Earlier today, Senator Di Natale said the improvements to security would entrench a gulf between politicians and the public.

"The Parliament is supposed to be the people's house and not a politicians' bunker," he said.

"This building was designed so that people were able to stand above their politicians. It was designed so that politicians served at the feet of the people."


Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs