4 Aug 2013

Asylum seeker deal with Nauru cruel - Greens

12:04 pm on 4 August 2013

The Greens in Australia say the federal government's asylum seeker deal with Nauru is cruel and absurd.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Saturday signed a deal with president Baron Waqa that will mean asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia could be sent to Nauru to have their claims processed and then be resettled there.

The ABC reports the agreement is similar to the one announced on 19 July with Papua New Guinea. The government will also provide financial support to Nauru as part of the arrangement.

Greens leader Christine Milne says the Government is simply bribing its poorest neighbours.

"Out of sight, out of mind," she said. ''This will fall in a heap the minute you have a look at the logistics."

Human rights lawyer Father Frank Brennan has accused Labor of engaging in a "race to the bottom" on asylum seekers.

Father Brennan, a friend of Mr Rudd, said the deal is clearly designed to appease voters in western Sydney ahead of the election.

"There'll be no children sent to Nauru under this scheme before an election, so obviously it's designed for consumption in western Sydney and not in the streets of Indonesia, where people are waiting to get on boats," he told ABC News.

The Refugee Action Coalition said Nauru already has high unemployment and will not cope with an influx of refugees.

"Nauru is not capable of providing any form of sensible resettlement," said spokesman Ian Rintoul. "The idea that Nauru could resettle refugees is just beyond a joke.''