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Australian PM Announces New Asylum Policy

7 years ago137 views

Today Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled her government's new asylum policy ahead of an election. An offshore processing center will be established to deter people smugglers from bringing illegals into the country.

On Tuesday, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled that talks were underway with East Timor to establish a regional processing center for asylum from seekers there.

[Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister]: (English)
“The purpose would be to ensure that people smugglers have no product to sell. A boat ride to Australia would just be a ticket back to the regional processing center."

Gillard who took over the office from Kevin Rudd in June, is revamping some of the Labour party policies on hot topics such as border protection and mining tax to regain grounds in the polls.

Rudd dumped an off-shore claim processing scheme for asylum seekers when he took office in 2007. Since then, the opposition party has blamed the government for an influx of illegal boat arrivals to the country.

Gillard says East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta welcomed the idea.


Gillard said her aim was to reach a regional solution to prevent the piling up of unauthorized arrivals in detention in Australia and for the UNHCR to also participate in that.

Some refugee advocates accuse Gillard of attempting to win "red necks" in marginal seats.

She says those Australians who expressed concerns about illegal asylum seekers should not be labeled as racist.

[Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister]: (English)
"It is wrong to label people who have concerns about unauthorized arrivals as red necks. Of course there are racists in every country but expressing a desire for a clear and firm policy when you are faced with a difficult problem does not make you a racist."

Gillard said she had also spoken to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key about the possibility of a regional processing center for asylum seekers.