Date: August 13 2012
The Gillard government is describing the Coalition as arrogant for ruling out accepting the findings of the Houston review before the report is published today.
With another three boats arriving yesterday, Labor is trying to ramp up pressure in a last-ditch move to break the parliamentary deadlock over asylum seekers.
The report into the issue from the inquiry led by former Defence Chief Angus Houston is widely expected to agree with Prime Minister Julia Gillard's proposal to send unauthorised boat arrivals to Malaysia.
The asylum-seeker crisis is expected to dominate Federal Parliament when it resumes tomorrow for the spring session.
The Houston inquiry will hand its report to the government early today and brief the opposition before publicly issuing its findings.
It is expected to be considered by cabinet and the opposition frontbench today as well as discussed by the Labor caucus.
Ms Gillard hand-picked the three-member panel in June after Parliament failed to support her plan to send asylum seekers to Malaysia for processing of their refugee claims.
The legislation would have countered a High Court ruling against the offshore processing plan.
Asylum seekers arriving by boat are taken to Christmas Island, with some later flown to the mainland.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says asylum seekers are ''hurrying to get on boats'' because people smugglers are pitching the idea of a ''closing down sale'' before the parliamentary deadlock over the issue is solved.
However, the likelihood of any resolution is slim unless the government backs down in the face of the stream of boats carrying asylum seekers.
The Greens are implacably opposed to offshore processing and the opposition has hinted it might not even support legislation that adopts its entire policy.
The three vessels intercepted yesterday bring the total arrivals for August to 11 boats with 650 passengers.
Almost 6900 asylum seekers have come to Australia on boats since the start of the year.
Mr Bowen would not guarantee that the inquiry's findings would be the ''circuit breaker'' to resolve the impasse.
''The Australian people will be able to judge Parliament's performance again … because the Australian people have had a gutful of this,'' he said.
''It takes a particular type of arrogance to reject a report's recommendations before you've even seen them when we are dealing with people's lives at stake.''
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison again insisted Parliament had to restore the policy of the Howard government.
''We are convinced of its ability to actually do the job because it has done it before,'' he said.
''If you ask the people smugglers … if they had the choice as to who they'd rather have running Australia and the border protection policies that were on offer, they wouldn't be choosing Tony Abbott.''
Greens immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young confirmed her party remained opposed to offshore processing.
''Any recommendation to amend the Migration Act to make it worse for refugees, to hurt refugees, the Greens cannot accept,'' she said.
Labor MPs are meeting today for the first time in six weeks, with the government's support up slightly in the latest opinion poll after months of flat-lining.
The Prime Minister's supporters believe the decision to confront the conservative states over rising electricity prices and the successful bluff over the National Disability Support Scheme will boost her support in polls and restrain leadership chatter.
Ms Gillard is under renewed pressure over gay marriage, with the ACT, Tasmania and South Australia taking action.
She will vote against change when the issue is debated in federal Parliament when Labor MPs will have a conscience vote.
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