The government is facing further attacks from the Opposition after the arrival of three boatloads of suspected asylum seekers in quick succession.
The Opposition said Saturday that the arrivals show the federal government’s policy is ineffective and discriminatory, opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison says.
A boat carrying 39 suspected asylum seekers was intercepted northwest of Ashmore Islands on Saturday morning.
It comes after a boat with 54 asylum seekers was stopped on Thursday night, just 25 hours after a vessel with 28 people was intercepted in the same area.
With the five crew on board, the latest boatload of people will be taken to Christmas Island for identity, security and health checks, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said.
Their nationality is yet to be confirmed, but if they are Sri Lankan or Afghan asylum seekers, their claims will be suspended in line with the government policy change announced in April.
Mr Morrison told the NSW Liberal state council in Penrith on Saturday the only boats Labor was making an effort to stop were those exporting Australia’s minerals – referring to a proposed mining tax, which the opposition says will ruin the mining sector.
“(Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd has tried to walk every side of the street on the asylum-seeker issue and has taken a good trip around the nature strips as well,” he said.
“Kevin Rudd’s asylum freeze has proved as ineffective as it is discriminatory.”
The policy change had seen detention centres reopened to house people, more children in detention, and greater cost to the taxpayer, Mr Morrison said.
“This is the evidence of failed policy and failed resolve,” he said.