Prime Minister Julia Gillard met with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott in Canberra today, calling on his support for proposed changes to refugee legislation.

Mr Abbott is now considering his response, but says there are no guarantees.

Pip Thompson reports.


The Federal Government needs the support of the position to make the proposed changes.

While the move to invite the Opposition Leader to today’s meeting seemed unusual, Ms Gillard emphasised the importance of reaching accord.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “This is too important for us to continue politics as usual. I will be asking Mr Abbott to work with me in the national interest.”

Before the meeting, however, Mr Abbott indicated he was unlikely to be supportive.

Tony Abbott, Leader of the Opposition: “There won’t be a blank cheque for a bad government.”

Afterwards Ms Gillard announced that Mr Abbott is in fact considering the proposed changes.

She also said the new legislation would achieve the same effect as the draft which was defeated by the High Court last month.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “The Leader of the Opposition is now considering those amendments as drafted, as I say, they have the same ultimate legal effect
and when a legal briefing was held on Friday it was clear that there were a number of ways of reaching this outcome.”

Ms Gillard hit back at a reporter’s suggestion that the new propsoal may also be in breach of refugee conventions.

Julia Gillard, Prime Minister: “Thats complete nonsense, Michelle, complete nonsense. We have worked with our legal advisors throughout this process, always on the basis that this nation would honour it’s refugee convention obligations, always.”

Ms Gillard would not speculate on what Mr Abbott’s ultimate decision might be.

Pip Thompson, QUT News.