The Australian Capital Territory chief minister, Andrew Barr, said he will make a statement on Monday accepting complete responsibility for the asylum seekers awaiting removal to Nauru. The move by the ACT chief minister comes following Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew’s letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull requesting for the resettlement of the 267 asylum seekers, 37 of whom are babies.
The ABC reported that Barr took to Facebook on Sunday night to announce his intentions to follow Andrews’ line of action.
“I am pleased to endorse Premier Andrews’ letter,” he wrote.
The state and territory leaders have joined hands to call for the resettlement of the asylum seekers following a legal challenge of Australia’s offshore detention centre, which was dismissed by the High Court last week.
The Victorian Premier said “there is no justification for removal” of the asylum seekers who were held on Nauru and were brought to Australia for medical treatment. “I want these children and their families to call Victoria home,” he said.
“I want these children and their families to call Victoria home,” he said.
NSW Premier Mike Baird backed the move saying the state was willing to do its bit to resettle the asylum seekers.
“I recognise the humanitarian impulse behind [Andrews’] letter to the prime minister,” the Guardian quoted Baird as saying. “The same impulse has driven us to work cooperatively with the commonwealth to resettle an additional intake of refugees in NSW following the recent turmoil in Syria, which is where our focus remains. If the PM has any additional requests for NSW, we are prepared to help.”
However, the appeals from the state and territory leaders have failed to draw a clear statement from the prime minister as to whether the group of 267 asylum seekers would be allowed to resettle in Australia. The group has a 5-year-old boy who was allegedly raped on Nauru.
“I will choose my words carefully because everything I say is being looked at in the finest, most detailed way possible by the people smugglers,” the Guardian quoted the prime minister as saying. “I want to say this: people who seek to come to Australia with people smugglers will not succeed.”
He added that the appeals would be assessed with compassion and case by case basis.