17 December 2008

More asylum seekers caught off Australian coast

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Yesterday, the Royal Australian Navy caught yet another boat of suspected asylum seekers off the coast of Australia, reports The Australian.

This makes the seventh interception of boats suspected to be aiding illegal Australian immigration since the Rudd government made changes to the detention regulations earlier this year.

According to ABC News, the boat of 37 unidentified people, most likely from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka or Iraq, is being escorted to Christmas Island for processing.  It is believed there are no children onboard.

The Minister for Home Affairs Bob Debus said the identities, intentions and health status' of the people onboard are yet to be confirmed, and that his government is continuing its high-level security of the Australian borders.

However, Opposition immigration spokesperson Sharman Stone said the increased number of interceptions is proving the government's new approach to immigration is sending off a message to prospective illegal immigrants that Australia has "gone soft".

"It was pretty much an open invitation, 'come on down'," she said.

Debus denies the Australian government's immigration policy is working against the interests of the nation and that the increased number of interceptions of people smuggling boats is the result of "seasonal activity".

"The number of people who came this year is approximately the same as the number of people who came last year and the year before that," he said.

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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