more embarrassment for Govt over Manoora asylum seekers
the asylum seeker stand-off in Nauru is back to square one, despite what appeared to be a deal between Australian and Nauruan authorities. Earlier tonight, officials from both countries boarded the HMAS Manoora but a little over an hour ago, they returned to shore empty-handed. The lack of progress this evening is an embarrassing set-back for the Australian Government, which had earlier said it wanted to bring a number of asylum seekers ashore tonight.
Compere: Tony Jones
Reporter: Ben Wilson
TONY JONES: Ben Wilson joins me on the line now from Nauru. Ben, I believe you've been hearing from the spokesperson for the Nauruan Government. What has he said?
BEN WILSON: The take from what happened tonight, off the coast, on board HMAS Manoora, is that the group of asylum seekers they planned to bring ashore tonight weren't ready to leave the ship and, as a result, the Nauruan delegation which went out to the ship with the brief of ensuring that anyone leaving the ship was doing so voluntarily and the Australian officials came back empty-handed.
They were preparing a landing craft which has been bringing asylum seekers to shore over the
TONY JONES: Now, will your delegation be making its own independent assessment of the conditions inside those Australian detention centres ABDUL KHALIQ FAZAL: Well, obviously that's why the purpose of a joint Afghan and Australian commission is going to assess each application and find out the reality about each applicant, that they are claiming to be Afghan refugees. TONY JONES: Finally, as someone who spent many years living in Australia, yourself, how do you explain to your colleagues in the new government in Afghanistan, the attitude of the Australian Government to these Afghan asylum seekers ABDUL KHALIQ FAZAL: I'm Afghan and I'm Australian as well. And the international community will look into the political condition of Afghanistan. But I have always advised the Afghan asylum seekers when I was in Australia and I was fighting for their rights, I was always telling them that these are not the ways that you could influence the Immigration Department or the Australian Government to accept you to stay there as a temporary or permanent resident. TONY JONES: We've just seen a report on how difficult this process of repatriating refugees is going to be. What do you say to them ABDUL KHALIQ FAZAL: Well, this is not correct because I'm part of the Afghan government. The Afghans in the Cabinet very understand people. Broadcast: 5022002 Afghan minister outlines issues facing asylum seekers joining me now from the Afghan capital of Kabul is Abdul Khaliq Fazal. He spent 30 years living in Melbourne where he was a businessman and a migration agent. There was the obligatory crowd of curious Nauruans looking on. These people understand me and the reasons I give them is quite understandable. No-one will be prosecuted to return to their own home in their own country. To try and get around that problem again, the deal that was reached was that a Nauruan delegation would be able to go out and independently verify that each of the asylum seekers would leave the boat of their own free will. TONY JONES: Now, you may have heard today that the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson, has requested that the Australian Government allow her to send her own envoy to inspect these detention centres. Two months ago, those people had the case to stay, in Australia or another country, and seek asylum.