AS EAST Timorese church and military leaders joined local politicians in condemning Julia Gillard's proposal for an offshore processing centre in their country, human rights leader Father Frank Brennan described the plan as "unprincipled and unworkable".
Ms Gillard said yesterday she would pursue an offshore facility as "an absolute top priority" if Labor was returned on Saturday.
But Father Brennan, director of the Public Policy Institute at the Australian Catholic University, said asylum seekers would make a rush by sea to any such facility.
"There may be merit in the idea of a regional processing centre, but East Timor is the last place in the region you'd put it. I think the idea of East Timor is unprincipled and unworkable," Father Brennan said.
"What you have to do with a regional processing centre is avoid the honey-pot effect, which is attracting even more people to make journeys from far away."