August 19, 2012
Another boat carrying 17 suspected asylum seekers has been intercepted in the waters off Cocos Islands.
The vessel was initially detected by an RAAF maritime patrol aircraft on Saturday morning.
The passengers are to be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo initial security, health and identity checks.
Meanwhile, the Government’s plan to start off shore processing of asylum seekers as soon as possible has suffered a major setback with reconnaissance teams finding the facilities on Nauru and Manus Island are run down and overgrown.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen says it’s not clear how long it is going to take or how much it is going to cost to recover the asylum seeker facilities.
Mr Bowen says the state of the centres disproves Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s repeated claims that there were facilities ready to start taking in asylum seekers at any time.
Mr Bown says updated costings and estimates on when the facilities might reopen would be released in the coming week once the reconnaissance teams returned to Australia.
The centres already face pressure, with nine boats carrying 534 people arriving since Monday, when the government announced its decision to restart offshore processing, following the report by former defence chief Angus Houston.