ID :
Mon, 05/11/2009 - 17:03
Auther :

Asylum seeker boat found off Australia

Another boat carrying suspected asylum seekers has been intercepted off northern
Australia, the 12th since the start of the year.
Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said the vessel - intercepted on Monday - was
believed to be carrying 31 passengers and three crew.
"The group will be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo health,
security and other checks to establish their identity and reasons for travel," he
said in a statement.
Last week, 50 asylum seekers were picked up by an Australian navy boat off the
northwest coast after their vessel started taking on water.
The boat was intercepted 685km northwest of Broome on Tuesday after initially being
spotted by a border protection plane.
The federal budget on Tuesday is expected to boost spending on border security
following an influx of asylum seekers over the last year.
Since the Rudd government abolished temporary protection visas last August, 19
vessels of suspected asylum seekers have been intercepted in Australian waters.
The government is tipped to put up to $500 million towards anti-people smuggling
measures, which would finance more boats, aircraft, training for border-control
staff and extra police.
The opposition claims that the increase in vessels coming to Australia is evidence
of the failure of Labor's border protection policy.
Opposition customs spokeswoman Sussan Ley said the latest vessel strengthened the
case for an independent inquiry into unauthorised arrivals.
"The pattern of arrivals is demonstrating that the Rudd government's approach is not
working," Ms Ley told reporters.
She said Customs was having to work so hard on intercepting vessels that much of the
real work was not being done.
But Mr Debus insisted the government's border protection measures were effective.
He said the successful interception demonstrated the effectiveness of Border
Protection Command's targeted surveillance program.
The latest vessel was intercepted by the patrol boat HMAS Launceston and the Customs
and Border Protection vessel Holdfast Bay.
Both ships were operating under the control of Border Protection Command,
approximately 23 nautical miles (42.5km) north of the Tiwi Islands.
The vessel was earlier sighted by a Customs and Border Protection Dash 8 aircraft.