13 Jun 2011

Australian opposition prefers Nauru asylum option

8:34 pm on 13 June 2011

The Federal Opposition says asylum detention facilities on Nauru could be re-opened within a ''matter of weeks'' and the island is an even better option now than it was 10 years ago.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott and Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison inspected former immigration detention sites with President Marcus Stephen on Sunday.

The Coalition would like to see the Australian government reopen the Nauru facilities rather than pursue a proposed refugee swap deal with Malaysia.

The ABC reports the centres were used to detain asylum seekers for up to five years under the Howard government's Pacific solution.

Mr Morrison says that while the buildings do need work, they could be made ready for asylum seekers within weeks.

Mr Abbott says reopening facilities on Nauru is a better option than the government's proposed deal with Malaysia.

He says he is satisfied with the facilities on Nauru and does not think the prime minister could say the same for Malaysia.

''Compared to Malaysia, Nauru is humane, cost-effective and it's proven,'' he said.

''That's why I say that the prime minister should pick up the phone to the president of Nauru and reopen this centre.''

He says Julia Gillard is being stubborn on the matter.