Australia, Malaysia closing in on refugee agreement
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is undergoing the final stages of an 292 million bilateral agreement with Malaysian counterpart to relocate 800 asylum seekers who arrive illegally by boat away from the Australian mainland for detention and processing. In exchange Gillard will expand Australia’s humanitarian efforts by assisting in the resettling of 4,000 persons of genuine refugee status, currently living in Malaysia, over a period of 4 years.
This move by the Gillard Government stems from a meeting held by both the Australian and Malaysian leaders on March 30 at a Regional Co-Operation-themed Ministerial Conference in Indonesia. Gillard had previously tried unsuccessfully to pitch the relocation of asylum seekers to East Timor and talks about such with Papua New Guinea are ongoing, although PNG says a previously closed centre will remain closed.,
Immigration Ministernoted that this agreement may be controversial but, "[a]s the Prime Minister said, nobody should doubt our resolve to break the people smugglers' business model."
Opposition leader Tony Abbott says that this agreement harkens back to the original migration policy which began in 2001 and was eventually scrapped by the Rudd Government in 2007. This was known as the ' ' and aimed to relocate asylum seekers who illegally arrived in Australia by relocating and processing them in detention centres in the of Christmas Island and Nauru.
The's website notes that while Malaysia hosts an estimated three million refugees and migrants from various countries it is not a signatory to the . This, it believes, will complicate the status determination of refugees.
- Bonny Symons-Brown. "Malaysia set to trade asylum seekers in detention centre deal with Australia" — , May 7, 2011
- Samantha Maiden. "Asylum seeker deal with Malaysia announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard" — , May 7, 2011
- Michael Harvey. "Julia Gillard returns to John Howard's Pacific Solution with Manus Island plan" — , May 7, 2011
- "Joint Statement with the Prime Minister of Malaysia" — , May 7, 2011
- The UN Refugee Agency. "2011 UNHCR country operations profile - Malaysia: Working environment: The context" — , May 7, 2011 (date of access)