The Prime Minister's announcement today of a cash payment to encourage Afghan asylum seekers to return home is welcome.
It is also a belated acknowledgment that his "Pacific Solution" for the asylum seekers is a costly failure.
Any proposal by the Australian Government to help with the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and encourage asylum seekers to return to their homeland will have the support of the Federal Opposition.
However, it is not acceptable for Mr Howard to continue to hide from the Australian people the cost of his latest proposal.
Yesterday, Treasurer Peter Costello admitted that the cost of dealing with the asylum seekers and the War in Afghanistan had exceeded Budget forecasts, despite promises to the contrary during the election campaign.
With the cost of the Pacific Solution now blown out to $285 million and rising, Mr Howard must come clean on the cost of this latest plan.
It is also unclear what support, if any, Mr Howard's proposal has from the interim Afghan Government.
Without a comprehensive solution involving the support of source countries like Afghanistan, today's announcement will do nothing to prevent the flow of asylum seekers to Australia.
It also does nothing to deal with the problem of Iranian and Iraqi asylum seekers who continue to be held in detention in Australia, despite being found to not be genuine refugees.