Tony Abbott Launches Verbal Assault Against Kevin Rudd Over PNG Asylum Seekers Deal

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By Reissa Su | July 24, 2013 2:35 PM EST

Tony Abbott told Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to move fast and send asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea.  The Opposition leader criticised Kevin Rudd for letting Papua New Guinea control its budget for aid. 

Mr Abbott said the prime minister was "grossly irresponsible" based on a statement made by Immigration Minister Tony Burke. 

Kevin Rudd shot back and accused the Opposition leader that he is doing everything he can to send mixed messages to smugglers of people around the world.  Mr Rudd said it's in Mr Abbott's best political interest to see the agreement with Papua New Guinea fail. 

The Coalition continued its verbal assault on July 23 regarding the Australian Labor Party's asylum seeker deal with Papua New Guinea.  Mr Abbott and Julie Bishop, his shadow foreign affairs minister, have both attacked the deal on two angles.

The first angle is speed.  Since Kevin Rudd's announcement of the Papua New Guinea deal in July 19, Mr. Abbott said hundreds of people had arrived illegally by boat. He said no one has yet to arrive at Manus Island. 

Mr Abbott continued on to say that if the prime minister was indeed serious in intimidating people smugglers, asylum seekers should be heading to Manus Island by now. 

In answer to this statement, Mr Burke should know that as former Health Minister, Mr. Abbott should understand why there was a delay.  Health checks are required on asylum seekers before they can be cleared for travel to Manus Island. 

Scott Morrison, Opposition spokesman, said Mr. Burke does not have credibility on the asylum seeker issue due to the government's unfortunate Malaysia people swap with the goal of moving asylum seekers to Malaysia within 3 days of their arrival in Australia

Coalition attacks

The Coalition also criticised Mr. Rudd for allowing Peter O'Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, to manage its foreign aid budget. 

In a press conference in July 22, Mr. O'Neill revealed that the government of Papua New Guinea would set priorities "under which Australian aid program will now be directed towards."

Mr. O'Neill said that Papua New Guinea will set priorities on what type of projects to pursue and where projects are needed the most.  The asylum seeker deal with the prime minister of Australia would also apply to the entire aid budget. 

According to Mr. Rudd's spokesman, Australia still retains normal control over the aid budget in Papua New Guinea, but he suggested that "some control" was handed over during negotiations. 

Mr Abbott argued that it was inappropriate of Mr Rudd to give up control over how Australia was spending its foreign aid budget.  Australian aid should not be treated as a free gift.  He challenged the PM to admit what he has done.  

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