The refugee swap arrangement agreed to by former US President Barack Obama and — rather reluctantly — accepted as a done deal by US President Donald Trump remains in place.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison dismissed Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek for saying she wants to see the resettlement deal expanded. As the Australian Associated Press reported, he said there is still plenty of room to take more people off Manus Island and Nauru within the existing agreement.
Under the resettlement deal the US agreed to take 1,250 refugees. To date, more than 500 refugees have already been resettled in the US. That leaves some 900 people still detained on Manus Island and Nauru.
According to the AAP, Morrison told reporters in Port Macquarie yesterday:
‘We’ve still got hundreds of positions that can be filled under that arrangement. The national security issues that are addressed in dealing with those transfers are not simple. We just work through the program and hundreds of people have been, and will continue to be able to be, relocated and resettled.’
Shorten’s words could hurt him
Morrison also pointed out that it’s odd Labor believes the party could reach a better deal with Trump, noting some Labor MPs’ ‘fairly colourful’ past descriptions of the US President.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, for example, once called Trump’s policies ‘barking mad’. If you know anything about Trump, you’ll know that’s unlikely to be forgotten or forgiven.
And not just on the matter of refugee resettlement.
Shorten’s derogatory outburst at the leader of Australia’s most important ally could come back to haunt him — and the rest of Australia. If Labor wins the election and Shorten finds himself in the Lodge having to negotiate with Trump there may be a new ‘worst phone call’ moment brewing.
It all comes to a head on Election Day, next Saturday, 18 May.
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