As the asylum seeker debate heats up ahead of the election, a group of prominent Australians is taking to the streets to inform the public about asylum arrivals.
By
staff

14 Aug 2013 - 8:18 AM  UPDATED 3 Sep 2013 - 6:16 PM

The 'hot potato' food van is making its way from Melbourne to Sydney over the next ten days, encouraging people to visit the van and discuss asylum seeker policies over a 'hot potato' meal.

SBS Radio coverage: Activists launch 'hot potato' asylum policy campaign

"You've got our Immigration Minister talking about asylum seekers and saying they'll never be resettled here. You've got our Foreign Affairs Minister saying they're economic migrants. They're called illegals. They're called queue jumpers," the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre told SBS.

"So the attitudes have been shaped and formed with this sort of rhetoric over the last 30 to 40 years and so no wonder the public are demanding a hard line because they've only heard of the myths and misperceptions from our politicians and our media as well."

The face of the 'hot potato' campaign, Imogen Bailey, had an insight into life as an asylum seeker on the SBS program, 'Go Back to Where You Came From'.

"The way that we are currently treating asylum seekers, they are not illegal, it's absolutely not illegal to seek asylum, and then the way we have things set up in this kind of punishment system, this deterrent based policy, is about cruelty it's hidden away from Australians," she said.

The 'hot potato' launch comes as the government announces the sixth asylum seeker boat to arrive in Papua New Guinea.

The 39 men from mainly Iranian and Pakistani origin will now wait for their asylum seeker claims to be processed by the PNG government.