Tony Abbott stalls on bid to legalise Malaysia "refugee" deal

Abbott is right. On Nauru, the illegals would remain under Australian control so there is no basis for a legal challenge

THE Coalition insists an Abbott government could sends asylum seekers to Nauru without amending the Migration Act in a sign it will take a hardline approach to Labor's demands for legislative change.

As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott refused to say whether the Coalition would back Labor's amendments to the Migration Act, Ms Bishop rejected Immigration Department advice given to the Coalition that Nauru could now be on shaky legal ground. "I don't believe that we need amendments to the Migration Act for us to reopen the detention centre on Nauru and for it continue to work as it has in the past," she said. "We believe that the fact that Nauru is now a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees is an important factor."

Ms Bishop said a "desperate" Ms Gillard was talking down the Nauru option for her own purposes. "It would be the final humiliating admission for her that she has been wrong on every aspect of her border protection policies," she said.

Labor has challenged the Coalition to back its changes to the Migration Act designed to place offshore processing beyond doubt following a High Court ruling declaring the Malaysia refugee swap unlawful. Labor says the changes would allow the Malaysian Solution to go ahead, while ensuring a future Coalition government could process asylum seekers on Nauru if it desired.

Mr Abbott said he wanted to see Labor's amendment's to the Migration Act before agreeing to support the government. "I'm not going to pre-empt the government and I'm not going to give them a blank cheque," the Opposition Leader said.

Mr Abbott reiterated his support for offshore processing, but maintained his political attack on the Malaysia deal. "I make the point that it's bad policy," he said.

"I mean, a five-for-one people swap is just a bad deal and sending people to a country where they're caned is hardly a fair deal."

The Greens a strongly opposed to the offshore processing of asylum-seekers, which leaves Labor needing Coalition support to ensure it can proceed with its Malaysian swap deal.


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