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Government hushed on Malaysia deal

Justice Minister Brendan O’Connor said the government was still keen to finalise the agreement but offered no confirmation that it could be signed early next week.


“This is an historic agreement and we’ve been looking at realising that and finishing the detail,” the minister told reporters in Adelaide on Friday.

“This is an important opportunity to undermine the model that has been sold by people smugglers that you can lure people onto unseaworthy vessels on perilous journeys which can unfortunately lead to maritime disasters.

“Of course we want to see the finalisation of discussions but people are aware of the fundamental elements of the agreement.”

Under a deal announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in May, Malaysia will take up to 800 asylum seekers arriving by boat, in return for Australia accepting 4000 processed refugees.

“I believe it’s this approach which will allow us a sustainable solution to complex regional and global problem,” Mr O’Connor said.

“What we’re basically doing is smashing the business model of people smugglers and that will be a very good thing.”

The deal has been subject to intense discussions between Canberra and Kuala Lumpur, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which welcomed Australia’s agreement to resettle 4000

refugees from Malaysia, but was wary of 800 boat arrivals from Australia being sent to a country that is not a signatory to the UN refugee convention.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was reportedly set to clinch the deal in Malaysia on Monday, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday.

However, the minister’s office would not confirm the timing with the newspaper.


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