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Lobbyists call Govt response to Vietnamese asylum seekers illegal


The independent Catholic group PolMin has demanded that the Government uphold the Migration Act and direct authorities to process a boatload of more than 50 Vietnamese asylum seekers intercepted on Tuesday off the coast of Western Australia.

The boat managed to elude Coastwatch and enter part of Australia's migration zone that does not exclude them from the requirement that they should be processed in Australia.

"Asylum seekers who enter Australia's migration zone at places not stipulated in the Migration Amendment (Excision from Migration Zone) Act 2001 (Ashmore, Cartier, Christmas, and Cocos (Keeling) Islands) are to be processed in Australia", said PolMin spokesperson James McGillicuddy.

He said PolMin is concerned that authorities have "decided to ignore the Migration Act" by having the asylum seekers moved some 1800 km to Christmas Island, in order to process their claims offshore.

"Through the Migration Act, Federal Parliament has given these Vietnamese asylum seekers the right to have their applications for asylum processed in Australia," said Mr McGillicuddy. "By ignoring this right, by removing these asylum seekers to the Christmas Islands, the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs is acting illegally."

SOURCE
PolMin

LINKS
A slow boat to Christmas Island (Sydney Morning Herald)
Second boat 'on its way': Coastwatch checking (Sydney Morning Herald)
Undeterred, still they come (The Age)
PolMin (Australian Political Ministry Network)

3 Jul 2003