Refugees Lost in Indonesian Waters

THE Navy has intercepted another boatload of asylum seekers, this time north-east of Christmas Island.

THE Navy has intercepted another boatload of asylum seekers, this time north-east of Christmas Island.

HMAS Bundaberg intercepted the vessel, which is carrying 75 asylum seekers and two crew, early this morning.

It’s the eighth boat to be intercepted this month.

Meanwhile,  another boat carrying 60 asylum seekers heading to Australia was last night missing in Indonesian waters.

Indonesia's search and rescue agency received a distress signal via the Australian Maritime Safety Authority yesterday afternoon but there are fears the vessel has already sunk.

A spokeswoman for Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said Indonesian authorities were carrying out the search, but that Australia was ready and willing to assist if required. "If they need assistance we'd be ready to help," she said.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the arrival of the latest boat means more than 3000 people have arrived since Labor embraced the Greens’ solution of community release and bridging visas in November.

“The message has gotten out,” Mr Morrison said.

“Asylum policy has been a one way street between the Greens and Labor, with Labor completely capitulating to all of Bob Brown’s demands.

“We have had more people turn up in the last week than in last six years of the Howard Government, yet Labor continues to opt for the Greens policies on asylum seekers rather than the proven polices of John Howard that they abolished.”

Mr Morrison said reports of the ongoing search for a suspected asylum seeker vessel missing off Indonesia was of great concern “and a terrible reminder about the risks associated with these terrible boat journeys and why we need to return to policies that work”.

“Our thoughts today are with everyone involved in the rescue,” Mr Morrison said.

“As this occurred in Indonesian waters, we are supportive of any assistance provided by the Australian Government to assist the Indonesian Government.”