Another boatload of Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers, this time 31 men and one girl, have completed their long journey to Christmas Island.
They are the latest in a surge of asylum seeker arrivals which is seeing boats being intercepted almost every day and, in some cases, twice daily. Yesterday 38 Iraqi men, along with four Indonesian crew, were transferred to the island from Customs vessel the ACV Triton.
The group had been on the Triton since last Friday when their asylum boat was intercepted at Ashmore Islands. On Thursday, 162 Middle Eastern asylum seekers arrived after being picked up by the Navy on Wednesday when they claimed their vessel was in distress about 50 nautical miles south of Indonesia.
The passengers were told to return to Indonesia but they refused. The latest arrival this morning means passengers from 25 boats have arrived in Australia since Friday June 8. There are around 1400 asylum seekers in various detention facilities on the island and the latest surge has seen the Federal Government attempt to reduce numbers by increasing charter flights to mainland detention centres.
Australia’s opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the arrival showed people smugglers were continuing to take advantage of Ms Gillard’s refusal to act to restore the coalition’s border protection policies. “Two years ago yesterday Julia Gillard promised she would break the people smugglers’ business model by building an offshore processing centre on East Timor,’’ Mr Morrison said in a statement today.
“Since that time she has overseen the largest number of illegal boat arrivals under any prime minister, with 206 boats and over 13,600 people arriving on her watch.’’ Labor want the coalition to support its policy to send asylum seekers to Malaysia under a people swap deal. But the coalition insists its policies when it was in government under former prime minister John Howard are the answer to stopping illegal arrivals. – The Australian