Monday, December 08, 2008
The Australian Navy is escorting a boat carrying 44 suspected asylum seekers and three crew to Australian territory of Christmas Island, after it was intercepted off the coast of Broome. The boat is the sixth to be detected in Australian waters in the past few months. The federal government says it will be sending an extra patrol boat and another plane to increase surveillance of the northern waters.The home affairs minister, Bob Debus, denies people smuggling is on the rise due to a perceived softening of immigration rules. The government says people smugglers are simply taking advantage of seasonal conditions. Those on board this latest vessel are believed Afghans. They will be processed once they arrive at Christmas island. Immigration officials say the existing detention centre will cope with the intake, and they would not need to use the new facility on the island.