15 Jul 2010

Australia's PM dealt another blow over refugee centre

11:09 am on 15 July 2010

The Australian prime minister's vision for a refugee processing centre in East Timor has been dealt another blow.

East Timor's Deputy Prime Minister, Mario Viegas Carrascalao, has rejected Julia Gillard's plan.

The deputy prime minister says East Timor is already independent and it will not be a puppet of any other country.

The comments came after the East Timor parliament earlier in the week also rejected the proposal.

The lastest development came as Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, yesterday conceding the debate on the asylum seeker issue was hurting Labor's election chances.

Senator Evans told a conference in Sydney the asylum-seeker debate had become toxic.

Opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, said the comments showed the government was more interested in polls and spin than an effective policy.

Despite the opposition to her plan in Dili, Ms Gillard maintain Labor will continue to push for an East Timor solution.

That's despite offers from Nauru to reopen a detention centre there - used under the former Howard government's Pacific Solution.

The opposition Leader Tony Abbott urged the government to reconsider using Nauru.