Local members of Rural Australians For Refugees gathered in Coffs Harbour on Saturday to urge compassion for those detained on Manus Island and Nauru for more than five years by our government.
They say the main political parties continue to defend the indefensible by arguing that offshore indefinite detention is essential to protect our borders, to prevent deaths at sea and to deny the people smugglers their lucrative trade.
"They forget to mention that we have a naval armada patrolling our northern seas, preventing boats from Indonesia reaching our shores," co-convener Mike Griffin said.
"Some 33 boats with more than 800 asylum seekers on board, have been turned back by our navy over the past four years.
"No boats have arrived on our shores from Indonesia during this period. No lives have been lost at sea. The people-smugglers have been foiled."
The group expressed their view that keeping people in indefinite detention was unnecessary, in addition to being cruel and inhumane.
"How can we possibly defend a policy of inflicting untold cruelty on one group of people in order to deter another?"
They highlighted the deaths of 12 men 'whilst in the care of our government' as well as the self-harm and significant mental health problems suffered by those held on the islands.
Rural Australians for Refugees calls on people, when voting in the Federal election, to consider the plight of these innocent people, and to vote for compassion and humanity, and not for a continuation of the present cruelty.