Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - As Oz proposal nears, opposition mounting

As Oz proposal nears, opposition mounting

As Oz proposal nears, opposition mounting

Opposition to Australia’s proposal to send refugees to Cambodia is growing, with the Australian Greens’ immigration spokeswoman yesterday saying the party would try to block it in the Senate.

Sarah Hanson-Young told The Sydney Morning Herald that Cambodia would be “a fundamentally unacceptable place for Australia to dump its refugees”. In an interview with the Post, Hanson-Young said there would be no guarantees that money given to Cambodia as part of the deal would be spent on refugee care.

“I don’t believe [the plan is] in the Cambodian government’s interest, and I don’t believe [it’s] in the Cambodian people’s interest,” she said.

A statement posted yesterday on what is purported to be Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page has further suggested that Cambodia may be close to signing off on the deal to resettle more than 1,000 refugees from Australia’s Nauru island detention centre.

“Cambodia will sign a memorandum of understanding with Australia in order to help the refugees, who are already interviewed, in the near future,” the post reads.

Eang Sophalleth, a personal adviser to Hun Sen, would not comment yesterday on whether the page is official.

Officials with the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment yesterday morning after a meeting of a working group tasked with assessing Australia’s proposal and drafting a counter-proposal.

Scott Morrison, Australia’s immigration minister, told ABC Radio yesterday that discussions were ongoing but that there is still “some distance to travel and we are travelling that distance”.

The interview also included perhaps the first admission from Australia that it would include money changing hands.

Australia can help Cambodia care for the refugees, Morrison said, by providing support “both financially and with expertise to ensure the resettlement program can be well implemented”.

He dismissed concerns that money for the deal would be pilfered, saying, “We are not in the business of lining the pockets of officials”.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

MOST VIEWED

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition

  • Actress’s NGO takes heat for promoting the ruling party

    An actress’s NGO which participated in an election campaign event contrary to the Law on Association and Non-Governmental Organisations (Lango) has been slammed. Chorn Chanleakena, a celebrity and the president of the Association of Artists Volunteering to Help Society, allegedly led its members in

  • Troop moves ‘won’t worry people’

    Senior officials at the Ministry of Defence and National Police said on Tuesday that riot training provided to the country’s police forces were aimed at preventing unexpected demonstrations and strikes before and after the July 29 national elections. The troop mobilisation, they said, would not