Aussie opposition leader against Manus deal

National, Normal

The National, Friday, May 13, 2011

AUSTRALIAN opposition leader Tony Abbott last night delivered his budget reply speech attacking prime minister Julia Gillard’s move to send asylum seekers to Malaysia and, possibly, reopen a detention centre on Manus.
“The prime minister used to say that detaining boat people on Pacific Islands was costly, unsustainable and wrong in principle, yet, last Friday, she announced that the government would try to reopen Manus island,” Abbott said.
“She used to insist that boat people could not be sent to Nauru because Nauru was not a signatory to the UN convention.
“Last Saturday, she announced that 800 boat people will be sent to Malaysia, which is not a signatory either, and that 4,000 of Malaysia’s arrivals would come here.
“The policy is no longer to stop the boats but to swap the boats – at a budget cost of nearly A$70,000 a person or more than 10 times the cost of a Sydney to Kuala Lumpur first-class air ticket.”
In Port Moresby earlier in the week, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Don Polye sought to reassure Australia that he was backing the proposal to set up a refugee processing centre on Manus, adding that he was publicly pushing the case despite cabinet postponing a decision on the matter.
Radio Australia reported Polye as saying that it was an important initiative but conceded that despite writing to the Australian immigration minister giving an assurance of support, the decision would be decided by cabinet.