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Agreement on asylum seeker policy?

Tony Abbott
Tony Abbott Chris Ison

AN END to the asylum seeker policy impasse is in sight with the Coalition indicating it will support legislation to allow for offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island.

Labor will introduce amendments to its migration bill in Parliament this afternoon designed to effectively re-implement former prime minister John Howard's Pacific Solution.

Re-opening processing centres on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea were two key recommendations contained in the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers report, released on Monday.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and immigration spokesman Scott Morrison both indicated this morning the Coalition intended to support the amendments.

Neither would commit to ever supporting the government's people swap deal with Malaysia, even if it was refined to meet the expert panel's recommendations.

The expert panel, which made 22 recommendations in total, said greater human rights protections were required before the government could proceed with Malaysia.

But it stressed Malaysia was a key part of an integrated regional approach to dealing with asylum seekers.

Mr Abbott welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's belated "conversion to common sense".

"The point I make is that to the extent that this legislation allows good policy, we will support it," Mr Abbott said.

"That's always been our position. It is the duty of the Coalition to support good policy and to oppose bad policy.

"My understanding is that the legislation is going to allow Nauru, and that's good policy."

Mr Morrison told ABC radio the Coalition would give its "strong support" to the amendments.

Meanwhile, Ms Gillard met with Defence Force Chief David Hurley this morning to discuss the logistics of getting military teams on the ground in Nauru and PNG to do the preliminary work required to establish the processing centres.

Should the legislation pass and the government succeed in striking agreements with PNG and Nauru, General Hurley said he could have reconnaissance teams on the ground as early as Friday.

Topics:  coalition nauru offshore processing


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