01 December 2008

Australian govt dismisses claims immigration policy too weak after campers find suspected asylum seekers

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The Opposition Government accused the Rudd Government on Tuesday last week that their illegal immigration policies were too soft, reports Welt Online.

After the new Rudd Government's decision to drop mandatory detention for all illegal immigrants, the Opposition is continuing its claims that Australian immigration policies would not deter illegal immigration.  Plans to give the Navy a Christmas holiday this year to cut costs have also encouraged concerns that illegal immigrants would find Australia's borders an easy target.

The Opposition claims the Rudd Government would undo ten years of strict regulations that succeeded in deterring boats of illegal immigrants trying to penetrate Australian borders.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans denied the Australian border security has "gone soft", as opposition MP Sharon Stone termed it.

"The Australian government maintains extensive patrolling of our borders.  What has changed...is that we won't detain children and we won't leave people rotting in detention long-term," Minister Evans told Reuters.

Under the previous government's rule, the Navy would send asylum seekers to small Pacific nations for processing, yet the Rudd government abolished this after the United Nations and human rights supporters made it clear the policy was inhumane.

"Treating people inhumanely once you've detained them is not a proper policy response for a modern democracy like Australia's," Senator Evans said.

In related news, a group of seven campers on the coast of Western Australia discovered a boat carrying 12 suspected Sri Lankan asylum seekers, reports The Australian.

Two of the men onboard the boat swam ashore to seek help from the campers, who subsequently called the police – who called the Australian Customs - to inform them of their suspicions. 

Senator Evans has not yet confirmed if the boat passengers are in fact asylum seekers, but the 12 men will be transferred to Christmas Island for processing.  Senator Evans confirmed his government would grant any passengers who make requests for asylum with onshore protection and access to review procedures.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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