Timor plan ‘ embarrassing’
THE Federal Government has been told to stop embarrassing itself by pushing its East Timor solution for processing asylum seekers.
P r i m e M i n i s t e r J u l i a Gillard’s proposal for a refugee processing centre in East Timor has been effectively ruled out as an option until after an agreement on a regional framework for addressing people-smuggling can be reached.
It is understood the proposal, flagged by Ms Gillard before the 2010 federal election, was not even discussed on Tuesday by delegates on the first day of the Bali Proc e s s s ummit o n p e o p l e - smuggling and related crime.
The government needed to accept the plan would amount to nothing, Opposition i mmig r a t i o n s p o k e s ma n Scott Morrison said.
‘‘ This government has been flogging this thing like a dead horse in the last nine months, and it has been embarrassing to watch,’’ he told the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday.
‘‘ To watch the procession of regional leaders forced to politely nod has been excruciating . . . as much for the rest of Australia watching this farce.’’
Mr Morrison reaffirmed the coalition’s tough line on immigration and flagged an extended 457 visa to address skills shortages in regional areas of Australia.