Red News Readers,
I wish that commentators would stop saying that all opposition to Rudd’s moves on refugees and asylum seekers comes from the Left of the ALP. The ALP has modified its policy on refugees and asylum seekers several times at State and National level since 2001, at State and National conferences of the ALP. Those improvements to policy were not achieved by the Left alone. They were supported across the party by all factions and non factional delegates. They were vigorously promoted internally in the ALP by members from all factions. And that is the problem that Kevin Rudd now has – selling what he doing inside the party, where a broad cross section of the party does not agree with these measures, and have voted for policy that contradicts what the leadership of the party in power is now doing.
Government changes rules for asylum seekers
Updated 9 minutes ago 9th April 2010
The Federal Government has announced an immediate suspension of all new asylum seeker claims from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, as news emerged that an asylum boat with 70 people on board sank off Christmas Island early this morning.
Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the Government has decided to implement the suspension due to changing circumstances in both countries.
The news came as the Government released details of the rescue of asylum seekers from a boat which was intercepted last night 73 nautical miles east south-east of Christmas Island.
The Government says some of the asylum seekers ended up in the water but were rescued by crew from HMAS Wollongong.
"Just after 2am (AEST) the engine failed on the vessel which began to flounder," a statement from Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor said.
"The transfer of passengers to HMAS Wollongong commenced immediately. Approximately 16 passengers were transferred immediately however some passengers abandoned the vessel.
"Passengers were rescued from the water by the crew of HMAS Wollongong.
"HMAS Wollongong is now proceeding to Christmas Island with the passengers for security, identity and health checks. Defence will provide an operational brief on the matter this afternoon, at a time to be advised."
The Federal Government has been under pressure from the Coalition after a spike in boat arrivals last year and this year.
The Coalition blames softened Government policy for the rise but the Government says it is due to international "push" factors.
More to come.