CHRISTMAS Island has become a”taxi service” after an asylum-seeker boat slipped though Australia’s border security and announced its arrival in a triple 0 [emergency] call, the Opposition says.
And the immigration detention centre is expected to come under further pressure today, with about 150 more boatpeople on three vessels reportedly expected to land.
Wednesday night’s undetected vessel, which sailed within 1.5km of Christmas Island, was the 101st to arrive since the Rudd government took office.
It was also the second time in a week that authorities had been alerted to an arrival by a phone call from those on board, after a vessel carrying 41 people called the Australian Federal Police from the island’s Flying Fish Cove on Monday.
Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison today said Kevin Rudd needed to listen to the Australian people and take action on people-smuggling, predicting further transfers from the overcrowded island to the mainland would occur over the Easter long weekend. “It’s not going to change under this government. They’ve shown no resolve to address this issue. The Prime Minister actually denies it is an issue,” he told the Macquarie Radio network. “He needs to listen to Australians on this because what they tell us, what they tell me is that they’re sick and tired of this and they want someone to take some action.
“(The asylum-seekers) literally rang triple 0 to announce their arrival. Interception I don’t think is the word for what’s going on up there. It’s basically becoming a bit of a taxi service. “Christmas Island’s become a bit like a revolving door, they’ve got to get people off to get people on.”
Yesterday’s boat carrying 64 Kurdish asylum-seekers and three crew was escorted by HMAS Broome to the island for health and identity checks.
Reports this morning claim the human cargo on board took the number of arrivals since the November 2007 election to 4450 asylum-seekers and 230 crew.
Mr Morrison said yesterday the arrival of the 101st boat would cost taxpayers more than $5 million and was the 16th this month which he described as an “all-time record.” “Four boats have arrived in the last seven days alone, with 160 people on board. With each additional person on Christmas Island costing almost $82,000, each boat is an expensive failure,” he said. “The budget has already blown out by $132 million and by the end of the financial year the Coalition expects it could blow out by a further $250 million.”
Only limited posts today as I am ill