Canada is being called upon to help Australia deal with more than 2,000 asylum seekers being detained for years in miserable conditions on remote South Pacific islands.
The issue caused headlines this week during Australia’s election campaign when a Labor MP said the next government should work with the United Nations to find safe third countries to relocate genuine refugees.
Asked during a televised interview to identify likely countries to send confirmed refugees, Labor MP Anthony Albanese replied: “There are a range of countries that are possibilities. Canada, for example, is an obvious one.”
Labor leader Bill Shorten, whose party is leading in the latest polls, appeared to quickly embrace the idea, noting that Canada’s recent intake of more than 25,000 Syrian refugees “certainly does make our government’s efforts not look in any fashion heroic compared to that.”
He called Canada “an excellent settlement country and we would certainly make it a priority” while working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to resettle refugees held in detention centres in Nauru, a tiny South Pacific island state 3,000 kilometres from the Australian coast, and Manus Island, which is part of Papua New Guinea.