September 14, 2013
Asylum-seekers arrive at Christmas Island, after leaving one of the four vessels intercepted since Sunday Source: TheAustralian
THE Coalition’s election victory has not slowed the arrival of asylum-seeker boats into Australia, with 377 people on four vessels intercepted since Sunday.
That is more than double the number of asylum-seeker arrivals recorded each week in the two weeks before the election, according to official figures.
A Customs and Border Protection spokesperson yesterday confirmed HMAS Armidale had intercepted a boat with an estimated 158 people onboard north of Christmas Island on Thursday night.
A further 90 people, believed to be of African descent, who had been transferred from their boat to the ACV Ocean Protector, were unloaded at Christmas Island yesterday. A further 135 people were transferred to Christmas Island from two other boat arrivals earlier in the week.
The Coalition’s border-protection plan, Operation Sovereign Borders, will officially begin when the new government is sworn in next week.
Meanwhile, outgoing immigration minister Tony Burke yesterday called on Tony Abbott to adopt Labor’s asylum-seeker policy, saying there had been a “complete collapse” in boat arrivals since Kevin Rudd introduced his hard-line approach on July 19.
“He needs to swallow his pride and it’s hard to swallow his pride so soon after what was such a big win for him,” Mr Burke said.
Figures from Customs and Border Protection show asylum-seekers arrivals have fluctuated widely since Labor’s Papua New Guinea policy came into effect.
In the week immediately after the announcement more than 1300 arrivals were recorded but numbers subsequently dropped.
During August the number of asylum-seeker arrivals each week ranged from 503 to 134.
Data provided by the Department of Immigration shows the number of asylum-seeker arrivals is down more than 40 per cent on the 5636 arrivals in the seven weeks prior to the PNG Solution.
Mr Abbott is due to meet Indonesian officials in coming weeks.
Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said this week his country won’t accept the Coalition’s policy for a $20 million program to pay Indonesian village “wardens” to provide intelligence about people smugglers and a boat buy-back.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: AAP