Asylum seeker report deserves a fair hearing - Gillard

The independent report on asylum seekers should be taken seriously by all parliamentary MPs, says Julia Gillard.

With Parliament resuming next week, former Defence chief Angus Houston is due to hand down his report on ways to stop asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat.

The Prime Minister commissioned the independent report after a parliamentary bid to reintroduce offshore processing failed in June.

"I am asking all members of Parliament, irrespective of their political party, to do something which I think is pretty easy to do, which is respect the views of an eminent Australian, Angus Houston," Ms Gillard told 2SM radio today.

Tony Abbott refused to appoint a Coalition MP to sit on a parliamentary reference group that supported the independent panel.

Yesterday, the Opposition Leader told reporters in Darwin that the Coalition did not need an outside committee to tell it what its policy was.

"The Coalition has had a consistent policy for more than a decade now. By establishing this so-called expert panel, the Prime Minister yet again has sub-contracted out to others the job of leadership which really falls to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet," Mr Abbott said.

Over Parliament's winter break, the Greens have also remained steadfast in their opposition to offshore processing, making a compromise between the parties look unlikely.

Today, Ms Gillard said that she would be briefed on the findings of the report, when Mr Houston chose to do it.

She said that the former Defence chief would then brief the Opposition and other MPs "fearlessly and frankly".

Ms Gillard called on all MPs to treat the findings with respect.

She said that while the panel was completely independent of government, she was sure it would be a "very high quality piece of work" because it had been done by "high-quality people".

"If you agree ... that Angus Houston is an eminent Australian ... [then] doesn't the question really become, why wouldn't you listen with a great degree of regard and seriousness to what they have to say?"

To date, more than 7000 people have arrived in Australia by boat this year. This compares with some 4500 people for all 2011.

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The story Asylum seeker report deserves a fair hearing - Gillard first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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