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Indonesia deal short-term fix: Opposition -

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Indonesia deal short-term fix: Opposition

Samantha Hawley reported this story on Wednesday, October 21, 2009 12:14:00

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition is scoffing at the Prime Minister's deal with his Indonesian
counterpart over asylum seekers today, saying it is only a piecemeal solution.

Kevin Rudd returned from Indonesia this morning with a guarantee from President Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono that Indonesia will accept the 78 asylum seekers on board an Australian Customs vessel.

But the Indonesians are stressing that they will take the men, women and children only on a short
term basis.

In Canberra, Samantha Hawley reports.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The Indonesian Government's given the green light for the Australian Customs ship
to head its way. And it's possible that by the end of the day The Oceanic Viking, that's carrying
78 asylum seekers, including five women and five children, could arrive at the West Java port of
Merak.

It's a win for Kevin Rudd who sat down with his Indonesian counterpart last night.

DINO PATTI DJALAL: The two leaders did discuss this in their meeting and had a very good
discussions. I know in some media it has been portrayed as a standoff but that's definitely not the
case, it was very good discussions and full of mutual understanding.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Dino Patti Djalal is a spokesman for the Indonesian President.

DINO PATTI DJALAL: The passengers on that boat will be allowed to be temporarily - I underline the
term, the word temporarily - accommodated and this is done for humanitarian reasons. There is a
sick child on board and the President is quite concerned about the health and the fate of this sick
child.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Once they arrive in Indonesia the asylum seekers will be referred to the UNHCR for
assessment. It will then be up to UN's refugee agency to find them a settlement country if they're
deemed to need it.

SHARMAN STONE: Obviously Mr Rudd was finally successful with the President of Indonesia when he
went begging that he take the people off the Customs vessel, the Australian Customs vessel.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The Opposition's immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone says it's not a long term
solution and the boats will keep coming.

SHARMAN STONE: The trouble is that is a one-off solution. The President of Indonesia has
categorically stated, and he of course we know, is concerned that Australia is not addressing the
pull factors. This one-off decision by Indonesia last year, last night, doesn't change any of that
at all.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The Prime Minister is back in Canberra and will likely address the matter in
Question Time this afternoon.

The Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the bilateral decision is significant and broader
discussions with the Indonesians will continue.

CHRIS EVANS: Well there's an ongoing discussion with the Indonesians about these matters, but also
about counter terrorism and a range of other measures. We did what we should do, we did the morally
right thing, but then we sought to discuss with Indonesia the fact that these people were found in
their search and rescue area and as a result of those discussions they've agreed to take them.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The Government's adamant that its border protection measures are humane but tough.
But there's been the first sign of disquiet within Labor ranks, with the backbencher Michael Danby
criticising the Prime Minister over his use of the term illegal immigration.

Chris Evans doesn't have a problem with it.

CHRIS EVANS: The PM is a very effective communicator and he was very keen to send a strong message
about our attitude to border security and he did that.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: In the Coalition too there are rumblings. Two members spoke out against the
Opposition's position in yesterday's party room meeting.

Bruce Baird a former Liberal MP is now the head of the Refugee Resettlement Advisory Council. He's
told Radio National there's a xenophobic nature to the debate.

BRUCE BAIRD: I made several phone calls to some of the leadership members on the weekend saying I
was distressed, a number of senior Liberals in Sydney were distressed, we're talking about having a
meeting and getting together to express our concerns about some of the comments, particularly
coming from the shadow minister.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the former Liberal MP Bruce Baird ending that report from Samantha Hawley in
Canberra.