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Another boatload of suspected illegals detained.

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for South Australia



Thursday 16 December 1999

Another boatload of suspected illegals detained

Customs Coastwatch was coordinating a response to a boatload of suspec ted illegal entrants detected near Ashmore Islands earlier today, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone said tonight.

A total of 150 people were on board the wooden Indonesian vessel, including seven Indonesian crew members and 138 men, four women and one child suspected of illegally attempting to enter Australia. Most of the suspected illegal entrants appeared to be of middle-eastern origin.

The vessel carrying the people was an inter-island ferry and may have been affected by recent bad weather in the area as it was reported to be taking water.

It is believed to be the same vessel reported to Coastwatch on Monday of this week, by the skipper of an Australian fishing vessel working in the area of Ashmore Reef.

"I am advised that the vessel may have tried to enter Australian waters earlier in the week, but turned back because of the severe sea conditions whipped up in the wake of Cyclone John," Senator Vanstone said.

"It appears that the vessel may have returned to the Indonesian port of Roti and waited for the weather to abate."

Senator Vanstone said that the people would be brought to the Australian mainland and handed to Immigration authorities when appropriate arrangements could be made for their transportation.

These arrangements were being made taking into consideration the presence of another cyclone in the general area, Senator Vanstone said.



jy  1999-12-20  11:54