23 May 2012

Government restates plea to opposition over Australian immigration row

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The Australian government has once again asked the opposition to re-enter negotiations in the hope of finding a solution to the ongoing Australian immigration situation.

Australian immigration

The Australian government is urging the opposition to re-enter talks to resolve the asylum seekers issue.

Discussions regarding the Australian immigration situation stalled in January and politicians from both parties have resorted to blaming each other for the rising numbers of asylum seeking boats arriving in Australian waters.

The government has blamed the opposing Coalition for their reluctance to allow them to legislate around their proposed Malaysia Solution, a people swap deal which was struck down by the High Court in 2011 while to opposition has blamed the government for refusing to reinstate stricter policies which saw boat numbers plummet during the previous Coalition led Howard government.

However, the arrival over the weekend of a further 250 asylum seekers which took the monthly total to over 1,000 arrivals for the first time since 2001 when a single boat carrying 438 asylum seekers arrived in Australia and prompted the then-Howard government to introduce stricter measures has prompted the government to attempt to re-enter talks.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen used the events from 2001, known as the Tampa affair, as an example of bipartisan cooperation regarding the immigration issue when then-Labor leader Kim Beazley allowed the Coalition's Pacific Solution to pass.

"We are asking no more of [Coalition Leader] Tony Abbott than John Howard asked of Kim Beazley, and Kim Beazley agreed," said Mr Bowen.

Acting Immigration Department Secretary Martin Bowles echoed Mr Bowen's thoughts, saying people smuggling operations were very aware of immigration legislation in Australia and boat arrivals respond very quickly to policy changes. Mr Bowles said after the Malaysian Solution was announced "we saw a major drop-off in the numbers. When the High Court overturned it, the numbers bumped up again - obviously there is some cause and effect there."


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