Call for transparent inquiry into asylum centre

CANBERRA – Australia’s Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the government must be transparent in its inquiry into reports aid workers coached asylum seekers on Nauru to self-harm.

Mr Shorten supported the inquiry, announced on Friday, as 10 aid workers from Save the Children were suspended on full pay amid allegations they also fabricated detention centre abuse stories.

“These are disturbing reports … but I would just say to the government, ‘if you want to have community confidence in the way you are handling immigration matters, you need to be transparent and open’,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Sydney’s west on Saturday.

Tensions on Nauru were already high, according to Save the Children, after the government made its refugee transfer deal with Cambodia last week.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said it was too early for refugees to accept offers for a transfer to the country because they hadn’t yet been asked by officials.

“There has not yet even been the opportunity to put the question with those who might consider doing it,” he said.

“That’ll happen over the next three to six months. We’re in no great rush.”

The deal will offer people arriving by boat and held on Nauru the option to settle in Cambodia, but it will be up to Phnom Penh to determine when and how many refugees it accepts. Nauru has been excluded from any reintroduction of temporary protection visas.

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