Gov’t Scuttles Refugee Swap With U.S.

Govt scuttles refugee swap with US

The Age
February 19, 2008 – 7:50PM

The Howard government's deal to swap refugees with the United States has fallen apart, and Labor has no plans to resurrect it.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans all but ridiculed the agreement, struck last year, when pressed by Greens senator Kerry Nettle on Tuesday as to whether it would continue under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

“I'll take a couple of deep breaths so I can be diplomatic,” Senator Evans told the upper house's legal and constitutional affairs committee.

“I'm advised that it's defunct. If it wasn't … I would have made sure it was defunct.

“It won't be pursued.”

The refugee exchange with the US, announced last April by former immigration minister Kevin Andrews, never got off the ground.

Under the plan, up to 200 Cuban and Haitian refugees detained en route to the US were to have been resettled in Australia, while asylum seekers intercepted on the way to Australia and processed on Nauru would be sent to the US.

Mr Andrews defended the program as a deterrent to boat people but opposition parties labelled it bizarre.