A rally on 15 August will protest against the reversion by Australia's Labor government to the "Nauru solution" for asylum-seekers arriving in boats instituted by John Howard's conservative government and at the time opposed by Labor.
The rally, called by the Refugee Action Coalition, is at the Immigration Department building, 26 Lee St, Sydney (Railway Square end of Central pedestrian tunnel).
RAC says: "These are the same offshore detention locations where the Howard government dumped refugees for up to five years under its Pacific Solution. Today Gillard says that refugees would have to remain there for long enough 'to equalise treatment' as if they had waited in Indonesia or Malaysia–where the wait is an average of 20 years!"
Gillard sought cover for her decision by citing the decision of the Houston panel. RAC commented:
"The panel has made no recommendation that will improve the situation for refugees who have no other choice than to get on boats.
"If the panel's arrangements are implemented, refugees will suffer and languish on Nauru and Manus Island, just as they did under the Howard government.
"All its recommendations are about outsourcing Australia's responsibilities to poorer, less-equipped neighbours. People desperate enough to sacrifice everything to get on a boat deserve our help. But the panel wants to shunt them off to places in our region where they have no hope of living in safety.
"The only place that can give refugees the security and support they need is Australia. Refugees should be welcomed into the community.
"While the panel recommended increasing Australia's overall refugee intake, without guaranteed resettlement to Australia, refugees will still have no alternative but to resort to boats.
"Refugees quite simply have the right to risk their lives at sea if they think that those journeys are worth that risk. Six hundred people have died at sea, but thousands have successfully reached Australia. Tony Kevin's authoritative figures show that the overwhelming majority of boat arrivals get here successfully. Howard's Pacific Solution didn't save lives either.
"The only way to save lives at sea is to decriminalize people smuggling, to open Australian processing centres in the region, and to massively increase our humanitarian intake without making vulnerable boat arrivals pay for it."