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Saturday, August 17, 2013

PNG won't settle refugees

PM Rudd and Peter O'Neill

A few weeks ago, Kevin Rudd announced he had stopped the boats once and for all by making a deal with PNG.  We took him at his word and thought it might just work. "There is one simple principle" he said.  "All asylum seekers arriving by boat would be diverted to PNG and settled there if found to be genuine refugees."  

Now we find out that's not true. PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said "There is no agreement that all refugees will be settled in PNG."

Mr O'Neill said PNG intends to work with the UN to find other countries who are prepared to take them and that includes Australia and New Zealand.  "Under that process, they (Australia) will get some and New Zealand has indicated they would take some" he said.

Meanwhile, Tony Abbott released his tough new refugee plan yesterday.  He will revert back to the successful conservative measures undertaken by John Howard's government that stopped the people smugglers in their tracks.  He's also going to axe the right of appeal for failed asylum claims.

And it doesn't just affect future people arriving by boat, but the 32,000 already here waiting to be processed.  They will be placed on a three year temporary protection visa if found to be genuine and forced to work.  If they can't find employment, they will have to undertake the work-for-welfare programme.  Family reunion rights will be scrapped and so will the loophole that has kept every failed asylum seeker in the country - the right of appeal.  Something tells me our courts may have something to say about that.

If elected, Abbott says he will undertake a military-led patrol off the northwest coast, where the boats make their way to Australia from Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and turn them around.

We've had to sit back and watch detention centres being burnt to the ground by angry people waiting too long to be processed.  The latest incident involved 125 asylum seekers on Nauru who burnt a new accommodation block and other new buildings to the ground which left taxpayers with a whopping $60 million bill. 

What to do about asylum seekers is a major election issue and after Peter O'Neill's revelation today that Kevin Rudd's refugee plan is a furfie, you have to wonder why he said he had the answer when he knew darn well that he didn't.