Australian gov't vows to push on refugee deal with Malaysia

08:45, June 17, 2011      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Thursday vowed to push ahead with her controversial Malaysia refugee deal, in defiance of an unprecedented parliamentary condemnation.

Gillard's government suffered an embarrassing defeat in the parliament, with both houses of parliament condemning the refugee policy, calling on the Labor government to dump its asylum seeker swap deal with Malaysia.

The Greens motion condemning the so-called "Malaysia solution" passed the lower house with coalition support on Thursday morning. Independent Andrew Wilkie also voted for it.

The same motion passed the Senate in May. Parliamentary historians believe it is the first time in Australian history both houses of parliament have condemned a government policy.

While the motion itself has no legal power, meaning the government is free to persist with the plan, Gillard said she was determined to pursue the Malaysia agreement.

"Then I intend to implement it because I intend to break the business model of people smugglers," she told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen also said the government would not back down: "We have the power to enter into this arrangement and we will."

While Gillard's government has resisted the unprecedented parliamentary condemnation, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young on Thursday afternoon introduced a bill amending the Migration Act to ensure the Parliament would need to give its approval to any deal involving the expulsion of asylum seekers to a third country.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott supported the move, arguing that Gillard's decision to ignore Parliament's rulings meant she was defying its will.

Under the deal Australia will send up to 800 boat people to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 people already judged to be refugees.

  Weekly review  


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Xi Jinping visits Italy, Cuba, Uruguay, Chile
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • China, Mongolia forge strategic partnership, vow to enhance economic ties
  • Hongqiao High-Speed Railway Center serve as maintenance hub for China's CRH high-speed trains
  • Residents stranded by floods and heavy downpours in Laibin City, China's Guangxi
  • Ayman Zawahri appointed as Al-Qaida new leader
  • Chinese, Russian presidents meet for deepening strategic partnership
  • New Taipei City promotes tourism in Beijing
Hot Forum Discussion