As the latest boatload of unlawful entrants was being dealt with by authorities last night, it emerged the Government was warned as early as last October to prepare for a flood of boat people.

On Saturday night Australia’s Border Protection Command intercepted a boatload of 73 asylum seekers believed to be from Sri Lanka, many “family groups” including women and children. The boat arrived about 11am yesterday at Christmas Island where the group will undergo security, ID and health checks to establish their identity and reasons for travel.

At the same time it emerged Immigration Minister Chris Evans was briefed by his department on an expected “surge in unauthorised boat arrivals” on October 27. But it took seven months to fund new measures – and the boats still keep coming. The advice followed the Rudd Government’s move to soften border protection policies. At that stage, Asian people smugglers had only just started to resume operations, sending two boats south with 31 passengers. Since then, another 23 vessels have been intercepted carrying more than 1000 asylum seekers.

Senator Evans continued to receive advice on the anticipated surge in subsequent briefings, The Daily Telegraph has learned through Freedom of Information laws. Yet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd scoffed at suggestions of a surge in unauthorised arrivals in an answer to Parliament in December. “In 2008 there have been four boats with 48 passengers. In 2007 there were five boats with 148 passengers. If this year we have had a surge, that was a deluge,” he said.

The new $654 million plan includes more money for surveillance and engaging with our neighbours. [but no change in the laws that encourage them to come]

SOURCE

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