"If the government was genuine about wanting to save refugees from a perilous boat journey, they would organise to ferry refugees to Australia themselves," he said.
"This would both save lives and cost a fraction of the projected costs of setting up and running the new facilities on Manus Island and Nauru."
The protest was mostly peaceful, with the only incident being police confiscating a poster with offending language from one protester.
Last week, Curtin University lecturer on human rights Caroline Fleay said many asylum seekers did not know how long they were going to be in detention, which added to their stress and anxiety.
"The main problem with Nauru, as with all detention centres, is that in the long term it's going to lead to mental health problems. It's been shown time and again," she said.
Offshore processing began on Nauru in 2001 under the Howard government, continuing until the Rudd government closed it in 2008.
The Gillard government reopened it in August this year.
More than 200 asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru since the reopening of the facilities, which will eventually have capacity for 1500 people.