August 12, 2012
IMMIGRATION Minister Chris Bowen has refused to rule out adopting the Coalition’s asylum-seeker policies if it cannot strike a deal with the Greens and independents this week.
The parties will on Monday hear the recommendations of an expert panel, headed by former Defence Force Chief Angus Houston, following the High Court’s detonation of Labor’s Malaysia people swap policy as unconstitutional.
Mr Bowen this morning said he was disappointed in Tony Abbott’s criticism of the Houston panel, saying “it takes a particular level of arrogance to reject the recommendations of three expert eminent Australians before you’ve even seen them”.
“Tony Abbott … still has a chance in parliament to show the leadership people are looking for and not the relentless negativity he’s shown up until now,” he told ABC1’s Insiders.
Asked whether Labor would consider adopting the Coalition’s policies if it cannot agree a policy with the Greens and independents, Mr Bowen said: “We’ve got 24 hours to go, Barrie, lets look at the panel’s recommendations. Obviously then we open negotiations with other parties in the parliament who are willing to have them.”
“Let’s hope we can get a resolution in the parliament this week.”
Coalition policies include issuing legitimate refugees with temporary protection visas, offshore processing in Nauru, and towing intercepted asylum-seekers back to Indonesia.
Mr Bowen said: “I don’t know what’s in the panel’s recommendations. I dare say there will be recommendations which the government cannot implement without legislation, and we’d be looking to do that as well.”
Opposition spokesman Scott Morrison last week said the Houston panel’s report was a matter for the government, not for the opposition.
“The Coalition has always had a solution to this issue – it is the government that has locked themselves, through their own refusal to implement the policies that worked, in a fabricated deadlock,” Mr Morrison said.
The Houston panel also includes foreign affairs expert Michael L’Estrange and refugee advocate Paris Aristotle.