24 Jul 2010

Australian opposition may talk to Nauru over asylum seekers

2:06 pm on 24 July 2010

Australia's opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison is considering a trip to Nauru to discuss the island's offer to reopen its detention centre.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been calling on Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to talk to Nauru's government about a processing centre, the ABC reports.

Mr Morrison says it had not been feasible while in Opposition to start negotiations with another country, but because an election is now underway in Australia, the situation has now changed.

The Nauru detention centre was the centrepiece of the Howard-era Pacific Solution, but was closed in 2008 amid criticism it was an isolated prison with poor facilities.

Nauru president Marcus Stephen has said his government would reopen the island's detention centre if Australia wanted to use it to process asylum seekers again.

He defended conditions at the centre, saying asylum seekers detained there were well fed and could spend their time shopping, swimming or biking.

Ms Gillard has previously ruled out Nauru as a location because it is not a signatory to the United Nations convention on refugees.