Wednesday, April 08, 2009


Red News Readers,

What does it take to get them to stop using the term "illegal immigrants'?

Jenny Haines

Another 'illegal' immigrant boat arrives

April 8, 2009 - 2:34PM , smh

Another boatload of suspected illegal immigrants has arrived in Australia, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus says.

The vessel arrived at Christmas Island on Wednesday morning with 45 people on board, the government says.

"The group did not arrive on the mainland and will be detained to undergo health, security and other checks to establish their identity and reasons for their voyage," Mr Debus said in a statement.

Almost 160 suspected illegal immigrants have been detained by authorities in the last week.

A group of 63 was detected off Ashmore Island last Thursday, just a day after a boat carrying 50 suspected illegal immigrants ran aground near Thursday Island.

The opposition has blamed the federal government for the influx of arrivals, saying it was due to Labor watering down immigration detention policies.

"There has obviously been a signal sent loud and clear to the people smugglers that it is now worth the risk," opposition immigration spokesperson Sharman Stone said on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Mr Debus said the government's priority was to ensure the Australian mainland was secure.

"Christmas Island is approximately 1,000 nautical miles from the mainland," he said.

"The priority is to conduct surveillance to ensure that vessels do not reach the Australian mainland."

Mr Watson said there had been men, women and children of Middle Eastern appearance aboard the unauthorised vessel, which was flying the Indonesian flag.

He had been told many of them were Iraqis and that several were sick, but had been unable to verify the reports.

Mr Watson said it was "totally reprehensible" that the boat had arrived on Christmas Island without detection.

He said such arrivals jeopardised the health of Christmas Island's 1,000 residents.

"This is about the safety and the livelihoods of the residents as far as disease is concerned," he said.

"It's about the disease-carrying opportunities that arise with bringing a boat that's got no quarantine onto our jetty.

"It's ridiculous.

"Those people could have walked off and joined the community.

"Because of the number of migrant people that are here now in the process system - for instance, interpreters - you wouldn't know whether they were just another interpreter or someone who had got off a boat from Sydney."

He said he did not believe there had been a similar instance since the 1990s, when unauthorised arrivals "just turned up".

"We're a long way from the 90s now," he said.

"We know as residents the island's detention centre is a system they've spent $500 million putting in place.

"There's no getting away from the fact we're a detention island, but it's impacting hugely on the residents.

"We don't get asked anything, we just get told."

Christmas Island shire president Gordon Thomson said when he went to the jetty to inspect the boat, the arrivals had been taken away to be processed by customs officials.

He was told the group included men, women and children.

"I counted about 40 life jackets on the jetty which they had taken off and I definitely saw children-sized life jackets," Mr Thomson said.

"I have been told they were all in good condition after an initial health check on the jetty.

"The boat looked to be in good condition and had an Indonesian flag on it."

Mr Thomson said he believed the asylum seekers were from the Middle East.

"It's unusual for boats to arrive like this," he said.

"But conditions in the countries where the asylum seekers are from are not getting better, so I expect we will continue to get more refugees."

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