AUSTRALIA’S parliamentarians appear no closer to a compromise on the divisive issue of offshore processing of asylum seekers, with Ballarat MP Catherine King saying Tony Abbott is incapable of negotiating.
Ms King’s comments come after two days of rowdy debate in the wake of last week’s fatal boat tragedy which saw around 90 deaths.
Government members yesterday criticised Mr Abbott for attempting to score political points from the deaths, while Prime Minister Julia Gillard said her party was willing to negotiate over proposed offshore processing in Malaysia and Nauru.
Mr Abbott said he will only support the federal government’s efforts if it agrees to implement all the coalition’s policies, including abandoning the Malaysian Solution, reopening facilities on Nauru, turning around of boats and reintroducing temporary protection visas.
The government wants the parliament to pass legislation allowing for processing in Malaysia, which was ruled illegal by the High Court last year.
Mr Abbott said he had not received an invitation from Ms Gillard for fresh talks and that they would not be successful.
Ms King said the Labor party room had seen heated discussions over potential compromises late in 2011, but Mr Abbott had blocked them then as well.
“The complete inability of Tony Abbott to negotiate comes at the determent of getting an reasonable outcome on this issue,” she said.
“He is effectively saying “do what we want or we’re not doing anything” and I believe that is the reason Mr Abbott is not the prime minister.”