Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has failed to back a push by state Labor leaders to have asylum seekers stay in Australia.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and his South Australian counterpart Jay Weatherill wrote to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull over the weekend to urge him to allow 267 asylum seekers to remain in Australia.
The group, including 37 babies, are faced with the prospect of being sent back to Nauru following last week’s High Court decision, which upheld offshore immigration detention.
Mr Shorten said that he shared the frustration of Mr Weatherill and Mr Andrews, but emphasised the Coalition had “dropped the ball on processing people”. He also confirmed that federal Labor remained committed to regional processing.
“I believe that regional processing provides the best long-term sustainable solution,” he said.
“But Malcolm Turnbull, if he doesn’t want to resettle people here, he needs to do something about what’s happening in Manus and Nauru.”
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr also pledged to take more asylum seekers on social media.
Mr Turnbull acknowledged the predicament was “very delicate”, but confirmed the transfer of the 267 asylum seekers conducted in a case-by-case basis.
He told the ABC there were “no policy options available in terms of border protection which are not tough which cannot be described as harsh”.
– with ABC