Monday, August 12, 2013

Fears realised: Somalis use PNG as asylum launch pad

From: The Australian

August 12, 2013

WARNINGS that Kevin Rudd's Papua New Guinea Solution would only serve as a springboard for asylum-seekers to cross the poorly policed Torres Strait have been fuelled with the discovery of two pairs of asylum-seekers at the weekend.
The arrivals from PNG came after a boat carrying 28 asylum-seekers was intercepted by the navy off Christmas Island on Friday night and unloaded at Flying Fish Cove on Saturday.
Bedraggled and smelling of the sea that they had "bunny-hopped" across from Indonesia to PNG, before paying for their 6km passage to tiny Boigu island, two Somali men were caught as they planned the next stage of their journey, to mainland Australia.
With $US1600 ($1740) in cash, they would have had a chance if not for the"Movement Monitoring Officers", the 18 locals employed as the eyes and ears of the Immigration Department across the archipelago of islands, above Cape York.
But now the Somalis are on their way to the high-security Villawood detention facility, in Sydney, and are likely to join the growing queue of boat arrivals who will be sent to Manus Island in PNG or Nauru.
The discovery of the Somalis, on Saturday morning, came just hours after the sighting by a Customs plane fly-over of another pair, this time a West Papuan and a PNG national in a traditional canoe, just north of Saibai Island, 4km from PNG.
After the announcement of the PNG Solution last month, Premier Campbell Newman said the plan would lead to PNG becoming a "jumping-off" point for a wave of immigration into Queensland.
"The Premier raised concerns about this policy in July, and was accused by Immigration Minister Tony Burke of peddling hysteria," a spokesman for Mr Campbell said yesterday.
"The federal government has yet to address the many serious issues that we've raised. This latest incident demonstrates the ease of passage from PNG into Queensland, which is what we've been saying since the start."
Mr Burke yesterday played down the arrival of the four, saying Labor's new hardline approach would apply to all.
"It doesn't matter what part of Australia's coastline people try to cross, if you come by boat without a visa, you won't be settled in Australia," Mr Burke said.
"These individuals who have come by boat without a visa will not be settled in Australia."
However, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the arrival of the four demonstrated the risks in trying to settle asylum-seekers in PNG.

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