22 February 2012

Australian immigration argument continues to spiral as 2012 arrivals top 1,000

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Reports that Australian immigration authorities have stopped two more boats, taking the total number of asylum seekers in 2012 over 1,000, has once again prompted political parties to blame each other for the ever worsening situation.

Australian immigration

Australian immigration authorities have intercepted record numbers of boats carrying asylum seekers.

Two boats carrying 98 and 96 people respectively were intercepted by Australian immigration authorities north of Christmas Island on Tuesday night, taking the total number to 1,165; more than four times the amount apprehended in the same period in 2011.

The boats were the seventh and eighth arrivals in little over a week and the continuing situation has done nothing to ease the political situation in Australia following Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd's resignation last night.

The Opposition seized the opportunity to criticise the government, both on immigration and on their party's reputation. Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said:

"These latest arrivals mean that so far this summer 2,186 people have arrived on 26 illegal boats, the highest level of illegal boat arrivals on record.

"Labor has lost control of our borders and themselves. Their only response as every boat arrives on their watch is to blame others for their failures."

Immigration Minister Scott Bowen feels he has reason to blame the increase on the opposition, saying: "We know that the boats slowed following the announcement of the Malaysia Arrangement, but the numbers continue to rise following [Opposition Leader] Tony Abbott's rejection of an offshore processing regime including his own policy of a processing centre on Nauru.

"Enough is enough. Australians expect Mr Abbott to work with the government to stop people risking their lives at sea."

Mr Abbott has criticised the government for not taking a tough enough stance on immigration, saying: "People smugglers think we're a soft touch because of Labor's lack of strong policies.

"The reason why people are so angry is because they think the basic sign of a sovereign country is to control its borders."

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