30 May 2011

Former Solomons deputy prime minister wants rethink on detention camp offer

7:28 pm on 30 May 2011

Former Solomon Islands deputy prime minister, Fred Fono, says the offer from his country's government to host an asylum-seeker processing centre must be refused by Canberra.

The Australian newspaper quotes Mr Fono saying Australia has to stop trying to off-load its problems onto fragile Pacific states.

The paper had earlier reported that the Solomons government had approached the Julia Gillard government offering to host a detention centre after a similar pitch to East Timor collapsed.

But Mr Fono said his government's offer is ill-conceived, would likely trigger land disputes and lacked any community support.

He says the Solomons is loaded with too many problems without taking on a controversial role processing asylum-seekers.

Mr Fono says it's a small country, without the resources for such a facility, and burdened with its own internal problems.

He says the government should be prioritising economic development, not dealing with asylum-seekers.

A spokesman for Australia's immigration minister, Chris Bowen, says Canberra has not been talking to the Solomons about the issue.