For the past fortnight public discourse in Australia has been dominated by the location of a potential regional processing centre for refugees. The Federal Government proposed Timor-Leste as their preferred location (a somewhat surprising move, least of all to the Timorese Government); the Opposition has promoted Nauru, home of the Howard Government's Pacific Solution.
But I would like to propose a third location for a regional processing centre: Canberra.
As one of the G20 nations, Australia is uniquely placed within our region to host a facility like this, much more so than either Timor-Leste or Nauru. Canberra is also an attractive location because of the Federal Government's executive power in the ACT.
Building a regional processing centre in Canberra would make an excellent contribution to other Government policies. Particularly what I have in mind is the Nation Building program that is currently underway. Canberra's refugee centre would clearly fulfill the goal of the economic stimulus plan: boost local infrastructure and support jobs. This is a win for Australia and the Federal Government. By building in Canberra, we would be supporting the local economy and saving "Aussie jobs" from being moved overseas.
And as a temporary site until the centre is constructed, the Government could use The Lodge. I've heard that's going to be empty until after the next election...