Rudd on defensive over asylum-seekers

2013-08-17 11:00
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sydney - Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was forced onto the defensive on the key election issue of asylum-seekers on Saturday, three weeks ahead of national polls, with cracks appearing in his hardline refugee policy.

Rudd's so-called Papua New Guinea Solution allows people smuggled by boat to be sent to the impoverished Pacific nation even if found to be genuine refugees.

But his PNG counterpart Peter O'Neill on Saturday indicated that the agreement was not open ended - as had previously been suggested - and there was a limit to the number of boatpeople it could settle.

"There is no agreement that all genuine refugees will be settled in PNG," O'Neill told Fairfax newspapers.

"We will take what we think we are able to assist, but we are also aware that we have our own issues with refugees from West Papua."

Refugees are a sensitive political issue in Australia and Rudd has gambled his electoral fortunes on the PNG circuit-breaker, which has so far slowed the flow of smuggling boats.

It is shaping up as a major election battleground, with the conservative Tony Abbott-led opposition pledging their own crackdown that would see all refugees put on three-year temporary visas and forced into a work-for-welfare programme without family reunion, appeal or permanent residency rights.

Abbott is favourite to win the 7 September poll according to opinion polls, and his party seized on O'Neill's remarks as evidence that the deal was "unravelling", along with ruling Labor's election campaign.

"The Papua New Guinea prime minister has made it very clear in this latest interview that the arrangement that Kevin Rudd claims to exist does not exist in those terms," said immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison.

Further compounding Rudd's woes, O'Neill said Australia would ultimately have to take back some of the boatpeople it sent to PNG for processing, under its international refugee convention obligations.

"They will get some and New Zealand has indicated they would take some," O'Neill said of the refugees unable to be accommodated by PNG.

He described asylum-seekers as an "Australian issue" and said "we can easily walk away from it and allow Australia to deal with it."

The remarks cast a cloud over Rudd's plan, which has succeeded in slowing the flow of people-smuggling boats in recent weeks by removing the incentive of Australia as an end destination.

Rudd said he had spoken to O'Neill on Saturday and the PNG leader had affirmed his "full 100% support for the agreement".

But Rudd stuck closely to the letter of the deal, the language of which is broad and makes no mention of PNG exclusively settling all of Australia's boatpeople and only applies for an initial 12-month period.

"I draw your attention to the provision of the regional resettlement arrangement which says persons found to be refugees will be resettled in PNG and other participating regional states, including Pacific Island states," said Rudd.

"That's what we agreed to, that's what we support now, that support continues to the present and that has been confirmed as late as today."

Read more on:    kevin rudd  |  australia  |  australia elections 2013
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You are in a curious mood and you want to be the first to know what is happening. You may find yourself drawn into cyber chatting...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.