Government to discuss with the Coalition the option of sending asylum seekers

The federal government has given up to a pushy demand of the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, that it present in writing its compliance to send asylum seekers to Nauru, as it drives to reach an urgent arrangement on offshore processing.

Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, said any negotiation between the parties on border security must include shifting asylum seekers to Malaysia, and discarded the Coalition’s policy of fleeting protection visas.

Mr. Bowen said: “We are happy to engage with the government of Nauru to see if a processing centre can be developed on Nauru. We do this for one simple reason – in the spirit of compromise … the time for yelling at each other about this issue has stopped.”

A spokesperson for Mr. Abbott said the Coalition position stays unaffected. However, it is alleged the Coalition might agree to a meeting once it formally receives the government’s letter.

“As we said this morning, the government should reopen Nauru straight away and if they do that, along with temporary protection visas and turning the boats back, there is absolutely no need for Malaysia,” he said.

On the other hand, a Malaysian official said its government was prepared to put into practice its arrangement with Australia.

“We are happy to bring back the agreement with the Australian government,” he said.

“We completely respect the policy of non-refoulement [returning asylum seekers to their home countries]. It is a requirement of the [United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] that Malaysia has agreed to. The UNHCR will be processing all asylum seekers who arrive in Malaysia,” he said.

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