The Federal Opposition has renewed calls for an inquiry into Australia’s border protection laws, after another boat carrying suspected asylum seekers was intercepted off the northwest coast. Border Protection intercepted the vessel, carrying 83 passengers and four crew, at midnight AEST, Friday night about 80 nautical miles south of Ashmore Island. It is the second boat intercepted this week after a vessel carrying seven passengers was found in the same area on Monday.

Fifty-six Afghans trying to travel to Australia in a wooden boat were also detained in Indonesia this week, a navy official said on Friday.

Opposition spokeswoman for Immigration Sharman Stone said the Federal Government has “clearly lost the battle to people smugglers”. It is the 30th boat that has been intercepted since the Rudd government “went soft” on border protection last August, she said on Saturday.

“For the sake of those risking their lives and to better protect Australia’s orderly immigration program we must have a detailed analysis of what has gone wrong with Labor’s strategy,” Dr Stone said in a statement. “Again, I call for an urgent inquiry into the relationship between the Rudd government’s softened stance on border protection and the surge in people smuggling in Australia.”

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