(An earlier version of this report was posted on Melbourne Indymedia on the afternoon of the protest: it can be recovered from archive.org here.)
The ABC radio news said about thirty people assembled (later emended to forty*) – it wasn’t a huge protest, but there were certainly more than thirty people there. This photo was taken just after 2pm – the Minister arrived early, of course (to avoid the rain?)… ABC TV news showed brief footage of her leaving the building – when everyone else was safely out of the way. Melbourne staged one of its famous downpours to mark the occasion:
No doubt the official line will be that that the protesters were all young left-wing hooligans, but in fact quite a number of them would have travelled into the city on a senior’s card, and several groups were represented, including the Greens and Darebin-based Mothers and Children for Refugees …
A bunch of cowboys arrived quite early on, and seemed set on causing trouble, until a senior officer ordered them to get out out it: the individuals may have been different, but the behaviour was very similar to what was seen at the Ruddock picket in Collins Street in May 2002.
All along there was a good deal of pushing and shoving, with at least one person reportedly snatched.
For an explanation of the placard in the following photo, here is an extract from the RAC-Vic website:
In the meantime, Sasan Mashayekhi, a 32-year-old Iranian man, is set to spend his sixth Christmas in detention at Port Hedland. Sasan’s family in Iran are desperately pleading for him to be released — they want to see him again, but his older brother has already been killed and they know he cannot return to Iran. Sasan used to paint and teach the children in Port Hedland — but after 6 years behind razor wire, seeking asylum, he like hundreds of others is in despair…
[The current version of the Rac-Vic website does not preserve this content, but see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2003-12-18/iranian-faces-sixth-christmas-in-detention/107602 and http://www.refugeeaction.org/rac/events.htm#sasan_rally]
*“POLICE today held back about 80 demonstrators as they attempted to storm a press conference by Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone in Melbourne.
Braving heavy rain, the 80 protesters blockaded the entrance to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) office, where Senator Vanstone was releasing a report on Australia’s brain drain.
A force of about 20 police backed up by six mounted police kept the protesters outside the building while Senator Vanstone, who had used a rear entrance, conducted her business undisturbed.
One protester suffered an epileptic fit in the pushing and shoving and was treated at the scene by ambulance officers.”
From news.com.au 18 December – http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,8202223%255E1702,00.html