03 April 2009
Boat carrying people emigrating to Australia illegally runs aground
A boat suspected of carrying people emigrating to Australia illegally has run aground this week while trying to enter Australia through the Torres Strait.
The authorities said it is likely that up to 50 people were emigrating to Australia on the vessel without obtaining Australian visas. The border protection agents had been monitoring the boat until it ran aground a reef near Thursday Island.
The 50 people found on board will be taken to Christmas Island for processing to see if they were attempting emigrating to Australia without having the right to do so from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC).
"A group of 50 people were found to be on board and were transferred to a Customs vessel on April 1. The group will now be transferred to Christmas Island where they will be detained and undergo health, security and other checks to establish their identity and reasons for their voyage," Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said.
Opposition spokesperson Sharman Stone said that the Government is not working hard enough to quash the rising trend of illegally emigrating to Australia.
"Caring Australians are deeply concerned that the people-smugglers are back in business," Dr Stone said.
"This is a global criminal network which takes cash up front and exploits the poorest of Indonesian boat crew to make the run to Australia. They have no concern for protecting human life.
"The continued squeeze of Immigration Department resources both on and offshore and the diminishing of border security resources are all a very deep concern as Australia re-emerges as a people-smuggler-preferred destination."
The Government has been in talks this year with the Indonesian, Malaysian and Singaporean governments to increase communications and border security in Southeast Asia, so that people smuggling rackets can be uncovered before immigrants begin the journey to Australia.
The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.