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Monday, 16 November 2009
Page: 11670

Mr TURNBULL (2:30 PM) —My question is again to the Prime Minister. I refer to his answer to my previous question and the correspondence to which it related. Is it not the fact that, far from the 22 asylum seekers who have left the Oceanic Viking being treated, as he states, ‘in a manner consistent with the treatment of any other asylum seeker in Indonesia’, they are in fact being treated in a wholly inconsistent manner, because they are the only refugees in Indonesia to whom the Australian government has guaranteed resettlement within four to six weeks? Why won’t the Prime Minister come clean on his special deal?

Mr RUDD (Prime Minister) —I note the Leader of the Opposition continues to gainsay the advice provided to the government by the Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. I referred before to what it said: that the Indonesian government and the Australian government have agreed to a set of arrangements regarding the timeframes for the processing of the group in Indonesia consistent with international practice and resettlement procedures.

The special deal which the Leader of the Opposition seems to refer to would be a special deal sought by individuals on that vessel to bring the vessel to Australia and not have it processed in Indonesia. We took the view, given the circumstances surrounding this vessel and where it was located, that it is entirely appropriate, and the Indonesians agreed for this to occur, for the vessel to go to Indonesia. The special deal being sought by those on the vessel was for the vessel to come to Australia. We have not responded to that pressure.

Honourable members interjecting—

Mr RUDD —Am I taking the interpretation from those opposite that they would wish to respond to that special pressure for a special deal and have the vessel come to Australia? They intervene that that is not their position. I seem to have heard the Liberal Premier of Western Australia say that that was precisely his position—that that vessel should come directly to Australia for processing. That is the position we have heard from them and I wait with interest for a position to be clearly articulated by the Leader of the Opposition: does he believe that this vessel should be processed in Indonesia or Australia? I have not heard him utter one clear statement on this, because yielding to special pressure, yielding to special deals, would be yielding to the demand that this vessel be processed in Australia rather than Indonesia. This government did not respond to that demand.