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Labor concerns about Cambodia swap plan

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Federal Labor is smarting over government plans to send some asylum seekers to Cambodia, citing the coalition’s opposition to the aborted people-swap deal with Malaysia.

Foreign minister Julie Bishop has asked the Hun Sen regime to consider the plan, amid claims of human rights abuses in Cambodia.

Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson said the coalition had run interference against a similar scheme proposed by the Gillard government, yet was now saying Cambodia was a suitable destination for refugees.

“So this smacks to me of political opportunism on their part,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Labor colleague Andrew Leigh dismissed the idea as a “thought bubble”.

“If the government has a serious policy proposal they want to put to the opposition we’re happy to entertain those,” he said.

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne, while acknowledging Cambodia was a signatory to the UN refugee convention, is concerned about the country’s political climate.

“Here is Julie Bishop appeasing a regime engaged in human rights abuses,” she told reporters in Canberra on Monday, adding there had been a crackdown on dissent.”

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