Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has revealed that Opposition Leader Tony Abbott offered to double Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake if he helped him form government after this year’s federal election.
‘Four months ago the opposition leader said he supported a doubling of the humanitarian refugee intake, and if he now turns around and says no, it would turn that offer into a really ugly political gesture,’ Mr Wilkie told Fairfax newspapers.
A spokesman for Mr Abbott declined on Sunday to discuss what had been offered to Mr Wilkie, and would not be drawn on whether the opposition leader supported an increase.
Mr Wilkie has experience with asylum seekers as a former senior analyst with the government’s peak intelligence body, the Office of National Assessments.
His comments came as Mr Abbott said he wanted a return to the hardline Howard-type refugee policy after last week’s Christmas Island boat tragedy.