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ABC News Breakfast -

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Joe O'Brien: ... ABC News Breakfast, the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will tackle the issue of people
smuggling when he meets Indonesian leaders in Jakarta today. Both countries are deciding how to
manage a group of asylum seekers on board an Australian Custom ship in Indonesian waters.

Virginia Trioli: The 78 asylum seekers were picked up on the weekend. Now it's not yet known if the
latest boatload will end up in an Indonesian detention centre.

Joe O'Brien: For more the Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor joins us now from Canberra. Mr
O'Connor, good morning.

Brendan O'Connor: Yeah, good morning, Joe.

Joe O'Brien: Now, first of all. Can you clarify the situation with the 78 asylum seekers, has
Indonesia agreed to take these people?

Brendan O'Connor: Well, as you know, Joe. The Australian Maritime Authority received a distress
call some days ago. We deployed a vessel to ensure that the safety of those passengers on the
vessel were-would be fine. We of course deployed the Oceanic Viking and have been working with the
lead agency, the Indonesian authority to assist those passengers, but I can't confirm at this point
that there has been a resolution. I can only say that those passengers are now safe and we did of
course the right thing to ensure the safety of those passengers.

Joe O'Brien: Can you tell us where the Oceanic Viking is now? If it's heading back to Australia or
exactly where it is?

Brendan O'Connor: Well, what I can tell you is that the Oceanic Viking provided a very important
service in ensuring that the passengers were safe. Medical assessments were made by the personnel
on the Oceanic Viking. As you know the vessel when it put out a distress call was 120 km south of
Sumatra and in the Indonesian search and rescue zone and we immediately contacted the Indonesian
authority once we were contacted and now the Indonesian agency and the Australian authority is
working very closely. The Oceanic Viking would be around the same vicinity it was only yesterday
I'm advised.

Joe O'Brien: The bottom line is you are appealing for Indonesia to take these people?

Brendan O'Connor: We are in discussions now with the Indonesian authority. Can I say we have been
working closely with the Indonesian government for years now and we want to make sure that we deal
with this matter appropriately and as a result we are working-our agencies are working closely and
cooperatively and we'll therefore through that process to determine the best approach for these
passengers.

Joe O'Brien: Well, the union leader Paul Howes has called on you to show leadership with a
compassionate attitude towards asylum seekers and take the 78 people to Christmas Island. He says
you should comply with international law, bring them to Christmas Island and process them
immediately.

Brendan O'Connor: Well, can I say in relation to any remarks made about government approach that
that is of course-that is their right, everyone can have a particular view on any given matter, but
the government has the right approach. We believe that we need to be hardline against people
smugglers. We need to dismantle organised criminal syndicates who will exploit people, seek to rob
their lifesavings and place them on dangerous boats for an empty promise.

Joe O'Brien: And you are taking a hardline with asylum seekers, too. Paul Howes ...

Brendan O'Connor: And at the same time-if I could just finish, thanks, Joe-and at the same time, we
need to be humane. We have a humanitarian program providing 13 750 people to be settled in this
country and we want to do things properly and humanely, and we believe we've got the balance right
in relation to this particular situation. We responded immediately in order to protect the interest
of those passengers as is proper and that's exactly what we'll continue to do when we're required.
We are therefore working, pursuant to those international conventions.

Joe O'Brien: Now Paul Howes was making the point that if you were taking a humane approach, you
would accept them because they would not be protected by international law in Indonesia as they
would be on Christmas Island, and the detention centres in Indonesia are full as well.

Brendan O'Connor: As I've made clear from the beginning since the recent surge, we are dealing with
a large-a very significant international issue here. We have 42 million people displaced around the
world, 15 million of which are being assessed as refugees by the UNHCR. We are signatories to a
resettlement program which provides humanitarian relief for refugees. We do our fair share and we
will of course, will continue to provide humanitarian relief when we can, but this is an
international issue, a global problem needing a global solution, and therefore of course we have to
work very closely with our friends within the region. Firstly to dismantle the organised syndicates
and of course very importantly find a process that provides better relief for those people, those
in many cases desperate people seeking to leave their countries as a result of conflict or war.

Joe O'Brien: And Brendan O'Connor, what strategies will Kevin Rudd be discussing with Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono to address this problem?

Brendan O'Connor: Well, as you know, the Prime Minister is in Indonesia to be present at the
inauguration of the President. This is the re-election of the President and there is a close
working relationship between Australia and Indonesia. There's a good personal relationship, too, I
might add, between the Prime Minister and the President, and that's the primary reason that the
Prime Minister is there. He confirmed he would be seeking to attend back in August. He's there for
that reason, but of course they'll discuss a whole range of issues. We have a series of emerging
issues that we have to confront together. Terrorism, the financing of terrorism, money laundering,
drug trafficking and people smuggling. It's not just one issue, so of course if there's an
opportunity, the Prime Minister will raise those matters with the Indonesian President, but
remember, he is also there and primarily there I might add, to be present at the inauguration of
the President of a very close neighbour.

Joe O'Brien: Alright, Brendan O'Connor in Canberra, thanks very much for joining us this morning.

Brendan O'Connor: Thanks very much, Joe.