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Minister talks to Papua New Guinea authorities

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M e d ia Release Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs The Hon. Gerry Hand, MP

Parliament House, Canberra, ACT2600 Telephone: (06) 277 7860

MPS 67/92


The Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs, Mr Gerry Hand, has initiated an approach to the Papua New Guinea authorities in Port Moresby about the suspected illegal immigrant 1 racket1 operating across the Torres Strait.

Confirming discussions had taken place today, Mr Hand said there were suggestions that unknown organiser were advising illegal immigrants to take routes which ultimately led to Papua New Guinea.

They were then being directed to a small port where local organisers were assisting them by delivering them illegally to Australian territory in the Torres Strait.

"If that is the case, it could jeopardise the present arrangements under the Torres Strait Treaty which allow freedom of movement by the indigenous people," he said.

"There have now been three groups which have been delivered to Australia illegally from Papua New Guinea, to islands in the Torres Strait - two in the last two weeks.

"If these arrivals were a coincidence, then it is a remarkable one.

"Australia has a duty to protect its borders and to ensure that our international treaties with Papua New Guinea are upheld. That has been the subject of the approach to Papua New Guinea authorities today."

CANBERRA 6 November, 1992

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Lynne Adams Minister's Office (06) 277.7860