August 25, 2012
HMAS Melville off Christmas Island. Picture: Stephen Cooper Source: Supplied
CUSTOMS has intercepted a boat carrying 80 people as Australia moves to reassure Nauru that detainees will be processed quickly.
The passengers were picked up southwest of Indonesia on Friday and have been transferred to HMAS Melville.
They will be taken to Christmas Island where they will undergo security, health and identity checks.
Customs has warned people arriving by boat without a visa after August 13 they could be transferred to a regional processing country.
Meanwhile, Nauru’s foreign minister says the Australian government has given him assurances that the assessment of asylum seekers detained on the Pacific Island will be done as quickly as possible.
Kieren Keke said the assessments of asylum seekers and attempts to resettle them would be done with speed.
“I’ve received assurances that both of those processes, both assessment and identifying where that person who’s identified to be a genuine refugee will be taken as quickly as possible,” Dr Keke told ABC radio this morning.
Federal parliament recently passed legislation to allow offshore processing of asylum seekers who arrive by boat.
An independent panel recommended the government urgently restart offshore processing on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
Australia’s territorial waters. Graphic: Matt Pike
Defence personnel will be deployed to Nauru over the coming weeks to begin setting up temporary accommodation.
Dr Keke said the first site had several buildings in good order but those would be used mainly for administration.
site is lacking buildings for accommodation and so initially – my understanding is that that will be for a number of weeks – the persons would be accommodated in tents,” he said.
He said there were some water and waste management issues at the site.
Australian and Nauruan officials are scouting for a second site as the first site would have a limited capacity to hold and assess asylum seekers, Dr Keke said.
“I’m not sure what that capacity is but it won’t be able to accommodate the final number that is expected to be accommodated in Nauru,” he said.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen has said the island should be ready to take 500 asylum seekers by the end of September.