The National, Monday July 22nd, 2013
TONY Abbott is accusing the government of subcontracting the boat people problem to Papua New Guinea, saying the only solutions to Australian problems are “here in Australia”.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has also copped criticism over the proposal from his home state, with Queensland Premier Campbell Newman expressing fears the boat people problem could be left on his state’s doorstep given its proximity to PNG.
Rudd last Friday announced a new hardline policy on asylum seekers, saying people who arrive by boat will have no chance of resettlement in Australia, and will instead be sent to PNG.
Addressing the Liberal National Party state conference in Brisbane on Saturday, the Australian Opposition leader attacked the deal with PNG, despite praising PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill as a “good man” who “genuinely wants to help”.
“I am very grateful for any help that other countries are prepared to offer us in fixing this problem.
“But if you want solutions for this country you can’t rely on the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, you’ve got to be able to rely on the Prime Minister of Australia, and I am someone the Australian people can rely on.”
Newman said given people could “row across in a tinnie or a canoe” from PNG into Queensland, the agreement would see a new wave of immigration through the Torres Strait.
“It’s only 4km from PNG on to the soil of Queensland.
“What Kevin Rudd is doing is creating a launching pad for a wave of additional ongoing immigration from PNG into Queensland, either legal or illegal.”
The United Nations refugee agency, the UNHCR, said it had not been involved in the agreement between Australia and the PNG, and that it was seeking information about the deal.