04 December 2008

Boat suspected of people smuggling found off Western Australia

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The Border Protection Command discovered another boat suspected of people smuggling off the north-west coast of Western Australia on Tuesday.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Senator Chris Evans said the group are to be detained in Christmas Island for processing until authorities confirm their identities.

Because the new Rudd Government is having to answer claims that its immigration policy is too weak and therefore encouraging more people to illegally migrate to Australia, the Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus reassured the public there is still the same level of commitment to the protection of Australia's borders. 

"Border Protection Command's 10 fixed wing aircraft fly more than 2400 missions each year, covering around 160 million square nautical miles on patrol for threats to our border," Minister Debus said.

"Our maritime surveillance operates every single day of the year and this will never change under this Government.  There will be no reduction in monitoring by Customs or the Navy over Christmas or at any other time.  The Australian Government also works closely with Governments across the region to assist our neighbours to have strong border protection systems in place."

Senator Evans said people convicted of people smuggling in Australia could face up to 20 years in jail.

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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