News Election 2016 Costello’s Nauru ‘torture’ claim: Shorten responds

Costello’s Nauru ‘torture’ claim: Shorten responds

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"When will Crown say 'we did something wrong?'": Tim Costello. Photo: AAP Photo: AAP
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Another campaign day, another question about asylum-seeker policy for Labor leader Bill Shorten.

But this time it wasn’t friendly fire from one of his candidates unhappy with Labor’s “we’re at one with the government” stance on border protection and offshore processing.

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Mr Shorten was asked to respond to the comments of World Vision Australia chief Tim Costello, who likened the treatment of asylum seekers on Nauru to psychological torture.

Nauru asylum seeker camp.
Shorten says Costello makes valid point on Nauru. AAP

“There’s no question that the psychological torture of not being able to actually resettle, and you can’t go back home, is torture,” Mr Costello told Sky News on Sunday.

Mr Shorten conceded the World Vision boss had a point, vowing to make regional resettlement a priority if he became Prime Minister after the July 2 election.

“The best answer is to defeat the people smugglers and make sure that the people in our care, directly or indirectly, get proper resettlement,” he told reporters in the inner-west Sydney seat of Reid on Sunday.

Indefinite detention, which was what the government was doing on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, was not the answer, he said.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he didn’t accept Mr Costello’s claim.

“It is absolutely critical that we maintain a secure border protection policy,” he told reporters in his eastern-Sydney electorate.

“That is why it is absolutely critical that people who seek to come to Australia through the services of people smugglers are not able to settle in Australia.”

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