Australia Plans To Ship Refugees To Timor

SYDNEY — Australia's new prime minister Julia Gillard Tuesday pledged to "wreck" people-smuggling by setting up a regional asylum processing centre in East Timor, tackling a key issue ahead of polls. Gillard said the centre, which has initial support from East Timor and New Zealand, would slash the number of migrants arriving in rickety boats which have caused headaches for successive governments. "The purpose would be to ensure that people-smugglers have no product to sell. Arriving by boat would just be a ticket back to the regional processing centre," she told the Lowy Institute think-tank in Sydney. She said the aim was to "wreck the people-smuggling trade by removing the incentive for boats to leave their port of origin in the first place; to remove both the profitability of the trade and the danger of the voyage". Gillard, who ousted Kevin Rudd in a party coup and is facing elections this year, also ended a three-month freeze on processing Sri Lankan asylum claims.