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Government promises to target people smuggler -

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Government promises to target people smugglers

Stephen Dziedzic reported this story on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 08:18:00

TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Government is under renewed pressure to deal with the political impasse
over its border protection policies.

Two more boats carrying more than 220 asylum seekers have arrived in Australian waters in the past
48 hours.

Both sides of politics have blamed each other for the surge in arrivals.

The Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor has been in Indonesia, holding talks there with
officials on how to crack down on people smugglers.

He's speaking to our reporter Stephen Dziedzic.

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: It's critical we target the organisers and facilitators, those that are involved
in reaping profits from people's misery and we're working our way through that by discussing with
Indonesia and the Indonesian national police, the best way to gather sufficient evidence and
intelligence to target these serious offenders.

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC: What measures specifically are you looking at?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: I'm not going to go to those discussions in detail because they're yet finalised.

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC: There's been a big surge in boat arrivals in recent weeks and the monsoon season
has begun, which makes the journey even more dangerous. Doesn't the Government ultimately have to
bear responsibility for that increase?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: We made very clear that when we were not in a position to see the legislation
enabling offshore processing to occur we would see, unfortunately, an increase in arrivals - and
unfortunately that is the case. Tony Abbott has refused to accept the advice of the national
security and border protection experts...

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC: But minister, will you concede that the Government's shift to expand the use of
bridging visas could very well be functioning as a pull factor in itself?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: I think the greatest cause of an increase in vessels was when it was clear that
the Opposition was not going to support the Malaysian arrangement.

STEPHEN DZIEDZIC: Dozens of Indonesian people smugglers who are being held in Australian jails
claim to be minors. Now, you discussed ways to improve the collection of documents to establish
their age. Can you tell us what concrete commitments do the Indonesians make on that front?

BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Well the Indonesians were very pleased, I have to say, that the Australian
Government would look at ways to expedite the return of juveniles that were on these vessels or on
future vessels.

What we've made very clear to the Indonesian government is that we will set in place an
administrative arrangement where the matter is not referred to the AFP but there will be a
determination by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and then the International Office
of Migration will accompany those minors home as quickly as possible.

TONY EASTLEY: The Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor speaking to our reporter Stephen Dziedzic.