9 Jul 2010

Australia opposition moots Nauru for off-shore camp

12:12 pm on 9 July 2010

Australia's opposition says if the Prime Minister Julia Gillard is serious about offshore processing of asylum seekers she should pick up the phone and call Nauru.

The opposition leader, Tony Abbott, says the prime minister is trying to spin her way out of trouble after prematurely announcing a refugee processing centre could be built in East Timor.

When he vowed to reintroduce offshore processing earlier this year he didn't name possible third countries that could host a facility, but he is now suggesting Nauru is an option.

Nauru has signalled it is open to an approach by Canberra to re-open its camp which was used between 2001 and 2008.

In 2001, when Australia decided that it wanted to process its asylum seekers abroad it approached several Pacific countries, including Fiji, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Palau, and ended up striking deals with Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Australia now says it is considering approaching countries that are signatories to the United Nations refugee convention.

In the Pacific, they include Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Fiji.