19 Dec 2003

Australian foreign minister concerned about Nauru's future

11:27 am on 19 December 2003

Australia's foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says the government is looking at ways to help Nauru after immigration detention camps on the island close.

Nauru is bankrupt and dependent on the income from immigration detention facilitates set up as part of Australia's so-called Pacific Solution to deter asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat.

Mr Downer says Australia can't just turn its back on the 10,000 people who live there and just say, `Oh well they're fine for as long as they're useful but once the processing facilities aren't needed any more well that's it, goodbye.

He says he wouldn't do that and he knows Australians wouldn't want him to do that either.

However, Mr Downer played down speculation that Nauru's 10,000 citizens might be granted Australian citizenship.