East Timor will get Immigration help

Setting up a regional refugee processing centre at East Timor will take time, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.

Australia’s existing immigration centres, including the Christmas Island facility, are reportedly beyond capacity.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard promised before the election that Australia would seek to have a regional centre built at East Timor to house the influx of asylum seekers.

But when pressed on the issue, Mr Bowen declined to admit to a specific deadline.

“I’m happy to say this will be one of my key and early priorities. However, I’m not in a position to put a time frame on it,” he said.

Asked about the political ramification of the asylum seeker issue, Mr Bowen said voters would understand the importance of pursuing discussions with Australia’s regional neighbours.

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