Malaysian swap deal best, to beat people smugglers, says Aussie FM

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 24 Jun 2012

MELBOURNE: Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr wants major parties to settle their differences on border protection to prevent events similar to last week's boat tragedy.

Rescuers found 110 survivors who were on a boat which capsized on Thursday between Christmas Island and the Sunda Strait in Indonesia.

Six bodies were found but on Sunday, as rescuers gave up hope of finding anyone alive, operations officially moved into body recovery mode.

It is feared that up to 90 asylum seekers might have drowned, the Australian Associated Press reported.

"I just hope this week, we can reach out across Parliament and settle on something that is satisfactory to both sides, namely protection for our borders and orderly processing," Carr told ABC TV on Sunday.

"I can't see a better way of doing that than the Malaysian solution," he said.

The Labor Government and Opposition Liberal leader Tony Abbott both agree to the offshore processing of asylum seekers but differ on where and how it should occur.

The government's proposed solution involves a refugee swap deal with Malaysia but the High Court has ruled it unlawful.

Abbott will not back legislative changes because he wants to process asylum seekers on Nauru. The Opposition has rejected a compromise plan involving both Nauru and Malaysia.

"Without the Malaysian orderly processing of asylum seekers, we are loading problems, including increased people smuggling into Indonesia ports," noted Carr.

However, Abbott insisted on Sunday the Opposition would not be changing its position. That's despite calls from his own party backbencher Dr Mal Washer for the Opposition to put decency above politics and reconsider the Malaysian solution. - Bernama

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