Tony Abbott wants Nauru

Tony Abbott wants Nauru to be used for the off-shore processing of asylum seekers.

The Australian opposition leader has refused to support either of the Government’s versions of amendments which would have made a Malaysian deal lawful, and offered a third – his own.

Like Labour’s, it is designed to accommodate a recent High Court ruling which blocked processing of boat people in third countries.

Abbott’s amendments, which he was scheduled to take to his back benchers on Monday evening, would restrict off-shore processing to countries which had signed the UN Convention on Refugees, which would disqualify Malaysia.

In effect, that meant Nauru, which always had been the Opposition’s preferred option.

Abbott said the Coalition still believed it could pursue its Nauru plan without legislative change, but wanted to work constructively with the government to put offshore processing beyond doubt.

“Let me make it crystal clear that we don’t believe that the High Court decided the other week Nauru is ruled out and indeed the Solicitor-General confirmed Nauru was a viable option under the High Court’s decision in our briefing on Friday,” Mr Abbott said.

“But we do want to, as far as is reasonable, put these things beyond legal dispute and that’s why we’ve put forward an alternative which is not open to legal disputation.”

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says the Federal Government will oppose the Coalition’s proposed amendment

The Australian Catholic Bishops continue to favour on-shore processing of refugees. “As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, our proposal is that people be welcomed within the community and their claims for refugee status be processed within the community,”  said Father Maurizio Pettenà, director of the Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office.

Listen to interview with Fr Pettenà


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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