Refugee, Adani Protesters Storm Stage During Bill Shorten Speech
Protesters railing against Labor policy on refugees and the environment have stormed the stage during Bill Shorten's keynote address to the ALP national conference.
Opposition leader Shorten took centre stage just before 11am on Sunday, to deliver a centrepiece speech outlining Labor's policy goals ahead of the 2019 federal election.
But the moment he approached the microphone, protesters holding signs and banners interrupted him.
"Mr Shorten, will you please stop the Adani coal mine?" one asked, before the ALP leader could utter a word.
"There's bushfires across QLD, heat records are tumbling, the Great Barrier Reef is headed for a third bleaching event."
Shorten looked embarrassed at the interruption, while the audience booed and jeered.
"Thanks for making that statement. Do I get to keep the flag? Good on you mate," the opposition leader said, taking a red 'Stop Adani' flag from the man and shaking his hand.
As that protester was taken from the stage, another protest had developed on the other side of the stage, with people protesting Labor's refugee policy.
A large banner with the words "stop playing politics with peoples lives. Close the camps" was unfurled by protesters wearing shirts with the message'It's Time', made famous as the campaign slogan for Labor PM Gough Whitlam.
"These people are well-intentioned but the only people they're helping is the current government of Australia," Shorten said, as security physically dragged the refugee protesters from the stage.
"I've waited as opposition leader for the next election for five years and two months, and if I've got to wait a couple more minutes, well I just will."
As Shorten waited for the refugee protest to be removed, federal MP and ALP national president Wayne Swan took the microphone.
"We're Australia's oldest political party. We have a proud history of democracy. We all understand the right to protest but that doesn't involve the right to drown out the leader of the opposition in the most important speech," he said, to cheers.
The Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) claimed responsibility for the refugee protest, saying seven of their members had made it to the stage. The group posted video of the protest on its Facebook page.
“The Labor Party can no longer ignore the humanitarian crisis unfolding on Manus Island and Nauru,” WACA spokesperson Kat Moore said.
“Mandatory offshore detention is a humanitarian disaster and a total policy failure".
Refugee and asylum seeker policy was a major point of debate ahead of the ALP conference, with dissent in the ranks over the party's stance on both offshore detention and boat turnbacks.