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Asylum deal with M’sia back on agenda

March 23, 2012

'Without the Malaysian solution, we are left with a half-baked, improvised, unwilling Indonesian solution,' says Senator Bob Carr.

MELBOURNE: Australlia’s new Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr said last night the proposed asylum seeker swap deal with Malaysia was back on the agenda as Parliament debates legislation to amend the Migration Act.

Independent MP Rob Oakeshott introduced a private members’ bill last week in a bid to break the deadlock on the issue of asylum seekers and of legalising offshore processing.

Carr said the Australian government had been working with its counterparts in Malaysia, and that Putrajaya was prepared for a new deal to go ahead.

“Without the Malaysian solution, we are left with a half-baked, improvised, unwilling Indonesian solution,” he told ABC TV’s Lateline.

“Without the Malaysian solution, all the region is left with is… a burden placed on our Indonesian neighbour, a parlous position in the ports of Indonesia, people at risk at sea and a message going out that Australia can’t control its borders in a way it would like.

“It’s altogether unsatisfactory,” Carr said.

“There is one political leader in Australia who’s brought it about and that’s (opposition leader) Tony Abbott, who chants the message, ‘stop the boats’, but has stopped the programme that would stop the boats.”

The opposition says it will not support Oakeshott’s legislation, describing it as “just the government’s bill rebadged”.

But Carr said opposition Liberal Party’s plan to turn back boats carrying asylum seekers had not impressed the Indonesian government.

Carr met the Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa for talks last week.

“They’re saying behind the scenes what they said publicly last Thursday. It won’t work, it’s unfair to them and it would be altogether unsatisfactory,” Carr said.

- Bernama


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