16 Feb 2015

Fraser scornful of Australian detention policy

5:02 pm on 16 February 2015

A former Australian Prime Minister says the Tony Abbott-led government is imposing the greatest brutality on some of the most vulnerable people with it's Pacific asylum seeker detention centres.

Malcolm Fraser was Liberal Party Prime Minister in the 1970s when a flood of asylum seekers from the Vietnam War sought refuge in Australia.

He says the current government has only saved lives at sea by leaving people in danger and by using the most inhumane, terrible and abhorrent set of policies.

"Now the great lie that the current government is continuing to pursue is they've stopped people, they've stopped the boats, they've stopped people drowning at sea and what happens at Manus Island and Nauru is a small price to pay. But that's a nonsense because they chose a most inhumane way of stopping the boats."

Mr Fraser says refugee immigration has been poorly handled by Australian leaders since the Tampa children overboard incident in 2001.

He claims Canberra needs to work with regional neighbours and the United Nations for a proper solution.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs