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"Pacific solution" an illusion not a solution.

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JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Population & Immigration



In the May Budget Papers the Government claimed that no new asylum seeker would be processed on Australian soil and it budgeted $430 million over four years for the processing of asylum seekers in third countries like Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Following yesterday’s statement by the President of Nauru, Rene Harris, it is now clear the Howard Government is botching its current short-term arrangement with Nauru. If the Howard Government is incapable of maintaining this short-term arrangement why should any one believe that the Howard Government can maintain the arrangement for four years.

The Howard Government needs to answer the following questions today:

! Has the Howard Government entered any four year arrangements with third countries to process asylum seekers? Clearly, it doesn’t have one with Nauru. ! Has the Howard Government even bothered to tell President Harris that it wants a four-year agreement? ! Does the Howard Government believe Nauru will enter such an arrangement in view

of its current bungling?

If the Government can’t point to a four-year arrangement or a realistic prospect of entering one, then it should concede that the “Pacific Solution” will come to end this year and it cannot be the long-term solution. The Government should concede that the Budget papers are nothing more than a work of fiction, a series of lies in a glossy cover.

Rather than propping up the illusion of a long term “Pacific Solution” by further excisions and other stop-gap measures, the Government should admit the truth and start work on a comprehensive long term plan to deal with refugee and asylum seeker issues.

If the Government prefers to ignore the national interest by pretending that a long-term “Pacific Solution” is anything more than a illusion, then Labor will do the Government’s work for it and develop a comprehensive long term plan that is both tough on border protection and compassionate.

10 June 2002

For further information contact: Julia Gillard on 0417 361 637 Jamie Snashall, Adviser on 0408 419 699