Aus PM backtracks refugee plan

2010-07-09 10:29
Sydney - Australia's new Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday talked up her plan for a regional refugee centre to tackle people smuggling but backed away from suggestions it should be built in East Timor.

Gillard Tuesday launched her bid for a regional processing hub with assurances she had discussed the plan with East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta, whom she said had indicated his initial support.

Her remarks were widely interpreted as inferring that the tiny island nation would be the site for such a centre, drawing a hostile response both domestically and in aid-dependent Timor.

Gillard was met with angry protests about the plan as she hit the mining city of Perth ahead of looming elections, with one man flinging an egg at her as she passed, sparking a security scare.

She moved to shift the debate away from East Timor, denying she had definitively said the fledgling nation would be home to the centre.

Careful dialogue

"Earlier this week I made the case that regional processing needs to be part of our long-term solution to unauthorised arrivals," Gillard said in a speech.

"I said in my speech that one possibility was a centre in East Timor."

"I said that there is no quick fix and that a careful dialogue is needed," she added. "The dialogue with other regional neighbours is also continuing."

The prime minister, who deposed former leader Kevin Rudd in a lightning coup just two weeks ago, said the ultimate destination would be decided through regional negotiation.

She hit back at suggestions that she failed to properly consult impoverished East Timor before naming it at the centre of her policy, saying no "concrete proposal" had yet been made.

"Those critics who want to declare the approach dead in week one are mistaken and will, I'm afraid, be disappointed," she added.

Gillard earlier said she would rule out building the centre "anywhere that is not a signatory to the (UN) refugee convention", and noted that did not exclude Papua New Guinea.

Sensitive issue

Offshore processing in Manus Island, part of Papua New Guinea, was a central part of the former conservative government's so-called "Pacific Solution" of locking up and processing boatpeople offshore.

Gillard has denied her tough regional plan is a return to the hard-line Pacific Solution, an approach which is being advocated by the conservative opposition as Australia prepares for national elections.

Immigration is a sensitive issue in Australia, where boatloads of refugees arrive after perilous voyages from Asia, often in rickety fishing vessels, as they escape countries such as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

Gillard's insistence that the centre be built in a UN-signatory nation rules out key transit countries Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Vanuatu, Tonga and island states in Micronesia.
Read more on:    julia gillard  |  australia
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Games on Sale!

Save up to 60% on selected games. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

Save up to 40% on outdoor accessories!

Tents, sleeping, day packs and more. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come back into focus. You may get a second chance to say what needs to be said. The important focus today is to not...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.