Australian Labor party defers debate about closing offshore centres

Australia‘s opposition Labor party has deferred a motion to close offshore detention centres for asylum seekers if it forms government.

The motion, drafted by Labor‘s left, proposed that it would close the detention centres in Papua New Guinea and Nauru within 90 days.

A small group of Muslim refugees pray at sunset while other refugees participate in a football match at a camp for the asylum seekers on Nauru, 20 September 2001. The first of hundreds of mainly Afghan refugees arrived on the island 19 September from the Australian troopship Manoora. Photo: AFP

It also proposed to bring all the people who are refugees or seeking asylum remaining on Nauru or PNG‘s Manus Island to Australia.

Shortly before the motion was to be debated at Labor‘s Victorian conference, two prominent unions within the party combined to defer it, to the frustration of the audience.

The former Labor-led government re-introduced the policy of offshore processing of asylum seekers in 2013.

Australia‘s opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten. Photo: AFP

Since losing power, Labor has continued to support tough border protection policies, although its leader Bill Shorten said his party is concerned with leaving people in indefinite detention.

Australia is due for a general election between August and mid-May next year.

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