Sunday, August 18, 2013

Abbott seizes on PNG's rejection of key planks of asylum deal

From: The Australian

August 17, 2013



TONY Abbott has seized on Papua New Guinea's denial of key elements of Labor's asylum-seeker policy, accusing Kevin Rudd of being prepared to say anything to get elected.
Speaking in Western Australia, the Opposition Leader said PNG leader Peter O'Neill had "flatly contradicted" Mr Rudd's declaration that PNG would settle all asylum-seekers deemed to be refugees and that none would make it to Australia.
"You just can't trust this prime minister," Mr Abbott said during a visit to the seat of Hasluck, held by Liberal MP Ken Wyatt.
Mr O'Neill said there was no agreement for PNG to re-settle genuine asylum-seekers after processing on Manus Island and that many would end up in Australia.
"There is no agreement that all genuine refugees will be settled in PNG," he said.
PNG would work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to engage with other countries willing to take part in resettling those refugees, Mr O'Neill said.
"That includes Australia, New Zealand and all the other countries who are signatories to the UN conventions on refugees."
Mr O'Neill said he believed Australia had an annual quota to settle about 20,000 refugees.
"Under that process, they will get some and New Zealand has indicated they would take some."
Mr Rudd has insisted there is "one simple principle" in his new regime - that all asylum-seekers arriving by boat would be diverted to PNG and settled there if found to be genuine refugees.
Mr Abbott said Mr O'Neill's comments showed that Mr Rudd had broken the trust of voters.
"Prime Minister Peter O'Neill of PNG has flatly contradicted Mr Rudd on the PNG arrangements," Mr Abbott said.
"Many of those who go to PNG will ultimately have to come to Australia. You just can't trust this Prime Minister. You just can't trust this Prime Minister.
"He will say anything if he thinks it's going to get him a headline tomorrow.
"But when you look at the fine print, when you listen to people actually explain what it all means, it turns out to be very very different from what the Prime Minister said."
Mr O'Neill also derided federal opposition claims that refugees would seek to use PNG as a pathway to Australia.
"It is certainly an overreaction," he said.

with AAP

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