COALITION minister Sussan Ley and independent MP Cathy McGowan have refused to discuss allegations the federal government paid people smugglers to turn boats back to Indonesia.
The Farrer and Indi MPs declined to answer questions yesterday, as Labor called for a full investigation of the allegations and moved to censure the government.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to confirm or deny accusations the government paid for asylum seekers to be turned around since they first arose last week.
The Border Mail put several questions to Ms Ley, including whether or not she would condone paying people smugglers, and whether or not she was concerned criminal activity had taken place.
Instead, the Health Minister responded in a written statement that immigration policy was “well outside” her scope.
“In the health portfolio, there’s really important legislation this week regarding pharmaceutical benefits, private health and our medical research future fund,” she said.
“Locally, along with some key issues in the electorate, we’re also hosting the Local Government Conference in Canberra and I’m planning a visit to our part of the Riverina on Friday.
“As you can imagine this is very much my focus right now and, with Operation Sovereign Borders well outside my patch, it’s not really my place to comment.”
Ms McGowan “respectfully declined” to speak to The Border Mail yesterday.
Her policy position on asylum seekers, according to her website, is that: “We need an immigration system that respects international law, is fair, and ensures people’s health, safety and dignity is maintained.”
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