30 Jun 2006

Australia doesn't want to be exploited by Papuan asylum seekers, says Downer

1:05 pm on 30 June 2006

Australia's Foreign Minister says Canberra doesn't want Papuan asylum seekers and independence activists to undermine its relationship with Indonesia.

The Sydney Morning Herald quotes Alexander Downer as saying he doesn't want to see Australia used as a landing base for Papuans seeking to make a political point by lodging bogus asylum claims.

Mr Downer says that on the one hand Australia accepts and appreciates its obligations to provide safe haven for people who are fleeing from persecution.

But he says on the other hand, they don't want Australia to be exploited for political and propaganda purposes where claims are made regardless of their credibility to generate publicity at the expense of the Indonesians.

The Minister says he has explained to Indonesia proposed changes to Australian migration laws which would force all boat arrivals to be processed in offshore detention centres.

The proposal to change migration laws, which has failed to win the support of the government's backbench, is widely seen as an attempt to placate Indonesia after Jakarta protested against Australia's granting of asylum to 42 Papuan refugees.