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Illegal boatpeople sent home.

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Media Release

The Hon Philip Ruddock, MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs




Fifty four illegal Chinese entrants who arrived by boat at Gove in March have been returned to China, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today.


Mr Ruddock said were it not for the recent arrival of another 62 people on Christmas Island, Australia would have removed almost all PRC nationals who had arrived on boats without authority..


“Illegal boat people who have no reason to stay in Australia will be returned as quickly as possible,’ Mr Ruddock said.


‘This return should send a clear message to others that such a journey is dangerous, futile and not worth risking their lives.


“It should also emphasise the fact that if people believe the lies peddled by the people smugglers, they wilt pay the price when they are sent home to a possible lifetime of debt,” Mr Ruddock said.


The return also demonstrates the strong relationship and cooperation that exists between the Australian and Chinese governments, and China’s support in the major crackdown on the people smuggling trade.


“This removal provides an opportunity for the Government to remind people of the tough new penalties for people smugglers such as the recent introduction of 20 year jail terms for traffickers and fines of up to $220,000,” Mr Ruddock said.


“In addition, unauthorised arrivals who are found to be refugees will now be granted a three-year temporary protection visa. People who are not refugees will be sent home as soon as possible.


“Other recent measures include legislation introducing tests such as fingerprinting and palm recognition, to ascertain the true identity of asylum seekers, and to ensure they do not already have protection elsewhere, or have been refused refugee status overseas,” Mr Ruddock said,


The Government also recently introduced legislation to give DIMMER and Customs officers powers to board and detain boats in international waters suspected of being involved in people smuggling.


“This removal, combined with the new legislation, enables the Australian Government to send a Clear message that we will do everything in our power to stop people smugglers,” Mr Ruddock concluded.


27 November 1999

Media Enquires: Steve Ingram 0419 278 715



jk  1999-12-01  12:43