Opposition to Australia asylum laws

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The Age in Australia reports on 24 May the growing controversy about proposed changes to the asylum laws in Australia.

Liberal MPs will be meeting Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone next week to express their concerns about the proposals to deal with asylum seekers offshore.

The bill has been criticised by Labor as an appeasement to the Indonesians' anger at the government's decision to grant visas to 42 Papuan asylum seekers that arrived in Australia in March.

A group of Liberal moderates have threatened to oppose the bill, which would deny asylum seekers arriving by boat access to Australian courts.

Amnesty secretary-general Irene Khan said that sending illegal migrants to offshore centres may violate the United Nations' refugee convention.

"I think Australia would be skirting its obligations there and, moreover, Australia would be tarnishing what has been a very good record on receiving refugees and hospitality towards them," she told ABC radio.

Liberal moderate Bruce Baird said that he would raise his concerns about the proposed legislation at a meeting with Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone next week.

"Hopefully we can have some resolution in which way we're going on this issue - I for one have expressed my concerns about the laws," Mr Baird told reporters.

"We've got a long way to go, discussions are going to take place with the minister next week - it has not been voted on yet."

A group of Liberal moderates, led by Petro Georgiou, last year secured changes to how Australia treats asylum seekers, which ended the detention of women and children.

They have argued that the proposed new laws, which would send all boat arrivals to Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, reneged on their deal with Prime Minister John Howard.

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