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Morrison rewrites history on Opposition policy

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22 June 2011


Opposition Immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison MP, has been caught out rewriting history when asked to answer basic questions on the Opposition’s policies, Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen MP, said today.

Speaking on Lateline last night, Mr Morrison tried to rewrite the speech he delivered at the Lowy Institute advocating a transfer agreement between Australia and a third country such as Iran or Pakistan.

When Ali Moore asked how the Malaysian solution is any different to the policy that Mr Morrison outlined in his speech, he said:

“I have proposed an arrangement that the UNHCR will be the author and administrator of. It wouldn't be a bilateral deal involving Australia or even one that Australia would advance.” [Lateline, 21 June 2011]

This is in direct contrast to his address to the Lowy Institute in November last year, when the Opposition spokesman clearly spoke about a deal which Australia would advance.

He said:

“In my view, Australia’s participation in a regional solution for Afghanistan should seek to trade off Australia taking more refugees out of the camps in countries of first asylum in that region in return for the ability to return those who have sought to advantage their asylum claims through illegal entry to Australia, to those same camps or other safe places established for that purpose, as part of the regional solution.

“Under this proposal Australia would continue to honour our obligations under the Refugee Convention, but use the safe third country provisions provided under the Migration Act to remove the advantage sought by those entering Australia illegally.” [Speech to the Lowy Institute, 30 November 2010]

In a move which further underlines the Opposition’s hypocrisy, Mr Morrison heads to Malaysia this week in a vain attempt to subvert the discussions that are taking place between the Australian and Malaysian Governments, as well as the UNHCR and the IOM.

“My Opposition counterpart isn’t content to run a negative line against the Government’s policy of a transfer agreement in Australia, he’s now looking to campaign in Malaysia against the Malaysian Government,” Mr Bowen said.

“Just like the Opposition Leader, who said he wouldn’t be bound by the results of his carbon tax plebiscite stunt if Australians voted in favour of it, Mr Morrison admitted on Lateline yesterday that although he’s unlikely to change his mind after visiting Malaysia he’s going anyway.”

The Member for Cook also refuses to confirm whether a Liberal Government would send asylum seeker children to Nauru, detail where those found to be refugees will be resettled, or provide any costings for a detention centre there despite claiming that it’s “cost effective” [Doorstop, 14 June 2011].

“If Mr Morrison can’t answer these questions it’s further evidence his policies are as hollow as his three word slogans,” Mr Bowen said.

“We all remember that the majority of people on Nauru who were found to be refugees ended up in Australia, meaning it didn’t break the people smugglers’ business model.

“Instead it broke people, with the former Government leaving one man on Nauru for over five years and another 120 people left there for three years or longer, including children.”

In comparison, the Gillard Government is delivering on its policy of a Regional Cooperation Framework and pursuing a transfer agreement with the Malaysian Government, in consultation with the UNHCR and IOM, to break the people smugglers’ business model and resettle an additional 4000 UNHCR-mandated refugees from Malaysia.

Media Contact: Laura Stevens 0432 833 769