Year’s 100th Boat Stopped

Year's 100th boat stopped

Yuko Narushima
The Age
October 5, 2010

THE 100th boat of asylum seekers to reach Australia this year was intercepted off Christmas Island yesterday, carrying 71 asylum seekers.

The opposition said the government continued to founder on border protection, despite identifying it as a ''key reason why Kevin Rudd was dumped''.

''Despite their failures, Labor continues to refuse to restore the immigration and border protection controls they abolished,'' opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said.
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“The consequence of Labor's border protection failures is a detention network in crisis and a budget out of control.''

Almost 5000 people have sought asylum in Australia by boat this year and detention centres on the mainland and at Christmas Island have been expanded to cope.

Detainees also face longer processing times, pushed out by the recent freeze, and incidents of self-harm are escalating.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen will soon travel to East Timor, Indonesia and Malaysia to discuss people smuggling and gather support for a regional processing centre.

''Rather than engaging in simplistic slogans and reverting to the Coalition's failed policies of the past, the Gillard government is focused on building lasting and long-term solutions to the problem of people smuggling with our regional partners and key international organisations,'' he said.

The last surge in boat arrivals was in 2001, when conflict overseas drove people to seek asylum in Australia, he said.

East Timor is embroiled in a political scandal with deputy PM Jose Luis Guterres and foreign minister Zacarias da Costa indicted over corruption allegations last week. They are under investigation for the appointment of Mr Guterres's wife as counsel to East Timor's UN ambassador in New York.