April 17, 2013
The Immigration Minister, Brendan O’Connor, has indicated that some of the Sri Lankans who arrived by boat in Geraldton a week ago will probably be sent back.
The Government has indicated that some of the Sri Lankan asylum seekers who arrived by boat in Geraldton a week ago will probably be sent back.
A total of 66 people were on the boat which arrived at the harbour on Western Australia’s mid-west coast without being intercepted by border protection authorities.
Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor says the Government will treat people fairly and Australia will meet its international obligations.
The minister has told Sky News that any people in the group will be sent back if Australia does not have a legal obligation to them.
“I’ll be advised very shortly and I’m saying to you this that if they don’t exercise our obligation they’ll be returned home,” he said.
“It will be imminent because there is a process going on to ensure that we make this decision and send a very powerful message that if you, of course, if you are afforded protection we’ll treat you as we should in accordance with the convention but if you are not, you return to your home country.”
Geraldton is 2,240 kilometres south of Christmas Island, where asylum seekers heading for Australia usually make landfall.
Those on board said they wanted to get to New Zealand.
Their rickety fishing boat, with a ‘Deutsche Bank’ logo painted on the side, was intercepted just 100 metres off shore after locals alerted authorities.
They had spent 44 days at sea.
It was the first case in five years that an asylum seeker boat had reached the mainland.