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PM's East Timor never never solution unravels in question time

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Scott Morrison, MP 

Shadow Minister for Productivity and Population  Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship  Member for Cook   

PM's East Timor never never solution unravels in question time 25/10/10

The Prime Minister's never never solution in East Timor unravelled again in question time today, with the Prime Minister unable to explain how the centre would work, Shadow Minister for Productivity and Population & Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Scott Morrison said.

“In question time the Prime Minister was unable to answer a simple question about whether Burmese asylum seekers in Thailand would be eligible to be transferred to her regional centre for processing,” Mr Morrison said.

“Yet last week in Senate Estimates the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Andrew Metcalfe said they would not:

Senator CASH—Seeing that we know what we would like, has any consideration been given to the thousands of people in camps on the Thailand-Burma border and whether or not they would be transferred to the regional processing centre?

Mr Metcalfe—We have largely been thinking about people who come from beyond the region and who move through the region. We are not talking about the fact that there are, of course, thousands of displaced people in the Asia-Pacific region. This is very much around the people who have been seeking to come to Australia. It is about people moving in an irregular fashion from outside this part of the world—Afghanistan, the Middle East, Sri Lanka—and who are moving through this region primarily with the objective of seeking asylum in a developed Western country.

“Confusion in the Government extends from who is eligible to be processed at the centre to the issue of what they even define as the region. The Prime Minister has sought to flippantly dismiss these issues, but they go to the heart of the credibility of her proposal,” he said.

“The Prime Minister is seeking to set up an asylum magnet in our region, with only those who cross a yet to be defined regional border, eligible to be processed at the centre.

“Clearly she does not understand her own idea. The East Timor processing centre is a thought bubble that has popped.

“It was and remains an election fix, designed to provide cover for the absence of any policy or strategy to stop the unprecedented arrival of asylum seekers by boat to Australia, that today set a new record,” Mr Morrison said.