Unguarded Western Australia coast is open to people-smugglers

by 1389 on April 11, 2013

in 1389 (blog admin), Australia, human trafficking

Yahoo News: Border protection review after Geraldton asylum fiasco

Nick Butterly, Andrew Tillett and Kate Bastians, The West Australian Updated April 11, 2013, 2:54 am

The Gillard Government could be forced into a radical overhaul of its WA coastline surveillance after Tuesday’s embarrassing arrival of asylum seekers at Geraldton.

This admission came as the Opposition declared WA’s entire coastline now “open game” to people smugglers with the navy and Customs and Border Protection Service too stretched to keep pace with the flood of arrivals.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare conceded yesterday the border protection regime might have to be redrawn after the boat with 66 Sri Lankans sailed into Geraldton undetected.

It is believed the first border protection bureaucrats in Canberra knew of the arrival was when _The West Australian _ contacted them.

Mr Clare said officials were yet to understand why the group came so far south and how they managed to refuel over such a vast distance.

But preliminary advice was that the boat came in a direct route from Sri Lanka.

Mr Clare conceded Customs would have to adjust its search and surveillance zones if there was evidence people smugglers were now sending vessels straight to the Australian mainland.

“I’ve asked Customs to have a look at this,” he said.

“I’ve asked them to review the circumstances of this case and if changes are required to the way in which they patrol, then that should occur.”

But experts doubted the Government could ever guarantee it would spot all small boats used for people-smuggling.

Andrew Davies, from the Australian Security Policy Institute, said he was surprised more vessels did not arrive in WA undetected. “Australia has the largest maritime jurisdiction in the world,” he said. “Basically there’s a lot of ocean.”

Shadow defence minister David Johnston said the Opposition hoped to be using unmanned surveillance aircraft by 2015 to watch the WA coast.

The asylum seekers at Geraldton Port. Picture: Lincoln Baker/The West Australian

The Government plans to fly the latest asylum seekers to Christmas Island for processing as soon as possible – a move the Opposition said was needlessly expensive.

The Sri Lankans were split up, with single men taken to the Northam detention centre and families put in detention in Perth.

Premier Colin Barnett said the arrival was a “game changer” and raised concerns criminals could be smuggling drugs to the WA coast. “We should not be just concerned about asylum seekers but crime gangs and drugs,” he said. “There is a wider issue here.”

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, said the passengers were economic migrants looking for a better life and not genuine refugees. He expected the Australian Government to send them home quickly.

“For sure there is no reason for any Sri Lankan to leave Sri Lanka to seek refugee status,” he said.

“These people should be sent back so the deterrence is there.”

But Sri Lankan Tamil Association of WA vice-president Rama Somasunderam said conditions in Sri Lanka were still “far from satisfactory”.

He wants the group’s refugee claims processed on the mainland. “It’s wrong and illegal if the Government takes them to Christmas Island,” he said.

Mr Clare said the asylum seekers would be returned to Sri Lanka if found not to be refugees.

Follow thewest.com.au on Twitter

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 guest April 12, 2013 at 10:52 am

As with so many issues (Islam, sexual perversion, foetal murder), if you use the vocabulary of your enemy, you have already acceded significant ground to him. ‘Asylum seeker’ and ‘refugee’ and ‘illegal immigrant’ are terms which are used to avoid the fact that people are invading another country. The correct response is to defend the country and its people and to either prevent, with full force of weaponry, their successful invasion, or to execute or evict them. It is largely because emotive words (asylum, refugee, immigrant) are misused in this issue that people are unwilling to summon the necessary aggressive defense of themselves, their families, property, country, future and civilisation. Note I leave out trying to influence politicians and governments to undertake this defense (which was once part of their jobs); they are committed to facilitating this invasion for numerous reasons (ideological, financial, political power etc); one can only hope they will ultimately face the fate reserved for traitors.

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