Canberra says Malaysia still supports proposed refugee swap deal
MELBOURNE, July 16 — The Australian government says Malaysia still supports its proposed refugee swap deal despite the political impasse on the issue in Australia.
Under the Malaysia swap deal, 800 asylum seekers who arrived by boat will be sent to Malaysia and Australia will accept 4,000 genuine refugees in return.
The opposition says it will not support the swap deal because Malaysia is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees.
Australia’s Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said he wants to turn boats around to Indonesia and return to offshore processing at Nauru.
Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr told ABC Radio he had discussed the asylum seeker impasse with his Malaysian counterpart, who still wants the deal to go ahead.
Carr said the Malaysian government was not frustrated by the delays to the deal.
“It was raised by me as one of the agenda items we touch on regularly,” he said.
“They simply acknowledge they continue to support it. Everyone with a stake in the humanitarian argument about irregular maritime arrivals knows that you’ve got to have offshore processing if you are to break the business model of people smugglers.
“Everyone agrees, except the (Australian) Opposition, that (the Malaysia solution) is the best option for offshore processing.”
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan High Commission in Canberra has asked the Australian government to turn boats with Tamils back to Sri Lanka. — Bernama