12 Jun 2011

Abbott on Nauru to discuss detention centre

10:18 am on 12 June 2011

Australian Opposition leader Tony Abbott is on Nauru to discuss whether the government is prepared to reopen a asylum seeker detention centre there.

He is to inspect the island's facilities on Sunday with Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison and Nauru President Marcus Stephen.

The ABC reports the Opposition has been pressuring the government to reopen the detention centre on Nauru, but the federal government has ruled that option out, instead focusing its efforts on Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.

Mr Abbott says the aim of his visit is to conclusively establish that Nauru could once again help process refugee claims.

He says he is seeking confirmation from Mr Stephen that he is ready to re-open the centre.

The opposition on Nauru, which has eight seats in Parliament out of 18, issued a statement welcoming Mr Abbott's visit and saying it too would seek a meeting with him.

The ABC reports the Howard government established the detention centre on Nauru almost a decade ago as part of its Pacific solution.

Labor began dismantling the policy when it won power in 2007. It recently agreed to a refugee swap deal with Malaysia, and hopes to reopen a detention centre on Manus Island, PNG.