Wednesday, December 03, 2008


Visa protest: man tries to set himself on fire

December 3, 2008 - 8:18PM, Source: ABC

Federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the Government is trying to help a family involved in several protests around Parliament House.

A man jumped into the Lower House chamber earlier this week and today he tried to set himself alight in front of Parliament House.

Senator Evans says the man appears to be worried about his parents, who have been on bridging visas since they arrived in Australia in 1997.

The Senator says their application for aged parent visas is being considered and the Government recognises that the family is in Australia lawfully.

"They are holders of valid visas, they're not being considered for deportation, and this is not being considered since the former Minister intervened," he said.

"The department is working very closely with them, we've offered and tried to provide counselling and welfare support."

The man was not seriously injured and was taken to the Canberra Hospital.MP apology

A Federal MP has apologised for taking a photo the man while he was trying to set himself on fire today and then selling the image to a newspaper in exchange for a donation to charity.

The Labor member for the Queensland seat of Dawson, James Bidgood, has told parliament his actions were highly insensitive.

Mr Bidgood says he will be apologising to the man's family.

"This afternoon at an event I took photographs of a serious incident. I later passed those photographs to a news organisation in return for a donation to charity connected to disabilities," he said.

"My actions were highly insenistive and inappropriate and I am tonight writing a letter of apology to the family involved."

House of Representatives speaker Harry Jenkins is investigating Mr Bidgood's actions.

Opposition frontbencher Joe Hockey says it is a tasteless matter.

"The photo is of a man who had doused himself in petrol and threatened to set himself alight," he said.

"This incredibly disturbing image provided by the member of Parliament to the media outlet raises a number of very alarming issues."