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Ellsion denies claims of corrupt officials -

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(generated from captions) that. Joses Tuhanuku, we'll have to

leave you there. We thank you very

much for taking the time to talk to

us tonight. Thank you. The Minister for Justice and Customs, Chris Ellison, has denied allegations made on this program last night that Australian Customs and Immigration officials are involved in a corrupt, people-smuggling network on our northern border. In that report, a Papua New Guinea defence force intelligence officer said that Pakistanis, Sri Lankans, Africans, Vietnamese and Papuans from Indonesia are all regularly smuggled into Australia. The claims come at a time of increasing tension between Australia and Indonesia over the Papuan asylum seeker issue. Stephen McDonell reports. Last night, Lateline reported the allegations of a Papua New Guinea military intelligence officer that corrupt Australian officials

are involved in smuggling people across the Torres Strait and into northern Australia. The Federal Minister for Justice and Customs refused to appear on Lateline tonight to respond to the allegations in the story. A spokesman for Senator Ellison did, however, tell us: But the Opposition is seizing on comments like this from last night's report. Our northern border is just completely porous. You know, the Government have now revised upwards the number of sightings of illegal vessels -

13,000... ..a year ago it was 8,000. And out of 13,000 illegal vessels, we managed to actually intercept about 300. That's an appalling state of affairs. Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on the Federal Government over refugees from nearby Papua. When 42 Papuans were granted asylum a fortnight ago, Indonesia strongly objected, withdrawing its ambassador to Australia.

Today, the Catholic Church attacked the Prime Minister's response for now deciding to send all asylum seekers

who arrive by boat to off-shore detention centres. One, big concern that we have is that children will, presumedly, now be going back into detention. On top of this, the wife of Papuan refugee Yunus Wanggai, who had said he'd taken their daughter, without her permission, to Australia now says this is not true. She says she was forced by the Indonesians to make false statements about her husband. She's now fled to Papua New Guinea and may also seek asylum in Australia. If she's successful, this would further enrage sentiment

in Jakarta where the newspaper that published this cartoon a fortnight ago, has again portrayed Australian politicians - this time, with Alexander Downer and John Howard celebrating their efforts