By Orietta Guerrera
Australia will be able to continue using Nauru to house asylum
seekers under a new $22.5 million agreement signed by the two
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer yesterday said the Federal
Government would provide extra assistance to the island nation to
help tackle growing financial and law and order crises.
Under the agreement, Australia will be able to continue sending
asylum seekers to Nauru to be processed until at least June next
year. It will also provide the island with a finance secretary, to
assess the nation’s net assets, and a police commissioner.
Opposition immigration spokesman Stephen Smith called for the
Government to disclose the terms and conditions of the extra money.
« Labor wants to ensure that any additional financial aid and
assistance the Government has promised is not conditional to Nauru’s
involvement in the Howard Government’s so-called Pacific Solution,«
Nauru has been able to continue functioning only thanks to $30
million in Australian payments for maintaining detention camps there
for the past two years as part of the Pacific Solution. Meanwhile,
Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said the arrival of 15 suspected
asylum seekers on Ashmore Reef confirmed the merit of the
Government’s policy of excising many surrounding islands from
Australia’s migration zone.
The identity and intention of the nine women and six men, who were
detected on the island by customs on Thursday afternoon, was still
A spokesman for Senator Vanstone said some of the people had admitted
paying up to $1000 to be dropped off in Australia.
Customs officials continued to interview them while bad weather
delayed the arrival of one of two navy patrol boats on their way to
The arrivals can be processed offshore and will not have access to
Australian courts because Ashmore Reef was excised from the zone in
2001. Senator Vanstone said this showed the policy worked and should
« If it turns out they were trying to enter Australia without proper
authority, it will confirm the merit of excising islands from the
Australian migration zone,« she said on ABC radio.
This week’s boat arrival was the first since November last year, when
a small fishing vessel carrying 14 Kurds from Turkey, landed on
Howard Glenn, executive director of the refugee advocacy group A Just
Australia, called for the latest arrivals to be brought to the
mainland to be assessed.