10 Jul 2010

Gillard changes tack again on East Timor idea

5:56 am on 10 July 2010

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has created further confusion over her comments about processing asylum seekers in East Timor.

On Thursday she denied saying she had specifically mentioned East Timor as a location for a regional processing centre earlier this week.

But on Friday morning she backtracked again, the ABC reports, saying she did make it clear in a speech in Sydney on Tuesday that she had approached East Timor about establishing a centre there.

Her words during the speech were: "In recent days I have discussed with President Ramos-Horta of East Timor the possibility of establishing a regional processing centre for the purpose of receiving and processing irregular entrants to the region."

Despite what she said on Thursday, she now acknowledges that she said in the speech that "one possibility was a centre in East Timor"

Egg thrown at PM hits guard

The idea has not gone down well in East Timor, and Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has derided Ms Gillard for talking about it with the country's president rather than with its elected government.

Ms Gillard was greeted in Perth on Friday morning by a handful of people protesting over the asylum seeker policy, and on her way to an ABC interview an egg was thrown at her. It missed, hitting a security guard instead.

A Perth man has been charged with assault.