Australian PM remains defiant on pursuing 'Malaysia solution'

Updated On: Sep 13, 2011

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said her government will press ahead with plans to pursue Malaysia swaps of asylum seekers, despite a ruling by the country's court that this was unlawful.

"Malaysia offered the best answer to the issue of asylum seekers and people smuggling then. It offers the best answer now," Ms Gillard told reporters at Australia's parliament.

She made the announcement after receiving support from her labor party to make changes to the migration act to allow the swap to take place.

Last month Australia's highest court ruled that the country could not send asylum seekers to Malaysia for processing, as the deal between the two nations was not legally binding and as such could not guarantee human rights standards.

Gillard must now hope to garner enough cross party political support to back the legislation changes through Parliament. Although political parties agree that asylum seekers should be processed differently they disagree on how and where this should take place. Opposition leader Tony Abbott gave little indication his party would be supportive of the move. "Malaysia is not offshore processing - Malaysia is offshore dumping," he said in a statement.

Labors coalition partners, the Greens, are also unlikely to support such a notion, opposing offshore processing altogether.

Donald Rothwell, an expert on asylum laws at Australian National University, said the legal changes needed by the government are relatively straightforward.

"The effect of such action would be to effectively make the decision a purely political one that wasn't subject to judicial oversight by the courts," he said.

The Malaysia solution aimed to send a tough message to asylum seekers that they would not be processed in Australia, however the proposal has led to an outcry in the international community that this would put them at risk of caning and human rights abuses.

Report: Australia Seeks Law Change for Asylum Seekers (WSJ, 12 September 2011)

Report: Australia migrants: Gillard to pursue Malaysia swaps (BBC News, 12 September 2011)

Report: Gillard hopes to revive Malaysia deal (The Independent, 13 September 2011)

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