22 Dec 2011

Australia keen on deal to process asylum seekers abroad

2:36 pm on 22 December 2011

The Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he is prepared to work over Christmas to strike a deal on processing Australia's asylum seekers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island .

Mr Abbott, who has been an advocate of re-opening the detention centre in Nauru, is also supporting the re-opening of the Manus Island centre which were both set up as part of Australia's 2001 policy of processing asylum seekers abroad.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that his support for Manus Island creates common ground with the Australian government, which is trying to end an impasse on refugee processing.

The paper reports the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, as saying he is willing to negotiate with the opposition on a compromise deal that would include both Nauru and Malaysia.

Both leaders says they would be willing to work on Christmas Day in order to agree on a common policy which is also aimed at staving off attempts by asylum seekers to try to reach Australia by boat.