ACT News


Christian protesters arrested at Senator Zed Seselja's office

Liberal backbencher Zed Seselja was absent as five Christian protesters were arrested at his city electorate office on Monday evening. 

The group, members of the Love Makes a Way campaign, had sought a meeting with Senator Seselja to call for the Abbott government to release more than 800 children from Australian immigration detention.

Australian Federal Police officers, including members of the Specialist Response Group, attended the Bunda Street office about 6.30pm after the day-long sit-in, in which ministers, young people and a Catholic nun prayed for asylum seeker families and federal MPs and senators. 

A spokeswoman for Senator Seselja said he met members of the group at an event three weeks ago. He refused to discuss their concerns on Monday. 

The protest ended without incident.

Uniformed AFP officers had warned the group at  9.30am that they  would be removed at the close of business. 


Campaigners have staged similar sit-ins at the offices of other government MPs including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles has also been targeted over Labor's support for hardline offshore processing and immigration detention. 

Sister Jane Keogh, who led prayer inside the office for more than eight hours, said the group was inspired by Jesus Christ and United States civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

The Brigidine nun, who has worked with asylum seekers in Australia for 12 years,  said further protests were planned and campaigners had targeted Labor politicians from the ACT on social media.

She said police told her they would consider whether the group would be summonsed to court.

"The basic tenet of the gospels is that we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves," she said.

"No Australians would agree to their children and grandchildren being subjected to long-term stress and trauma in order to teach vulnerable people not to come to Australia asking for help."

In a written statement issued on Monday, Senator Seselja said the Abbott government had reduced the number of children in detention on Christmas Island by 75 per cent. 

He said an almost 50 per cent reduction had taken place across all government detention centres.

"As of August this year, [the number of children in detention] has been reduced to 855," he said. "Legislation is currently before the Parliament that will allow us to get the remaining children out of detention in Australia.  

"We need the support of the other political parties for this to pass." 

The group criticised the statement and said Senator Seselja, a conservative Catholic, had "attempted to spin cruelty as compassion".

They called on him to listen to community criticism of the government's asylum policies.