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Powers to detain in the Torres Strait.

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Media Release

The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP

Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs


MPS 142/99




A six-month trial in the Torres Strait later this year will see Australia’s Movement Monitoring Officers (MMO s) given the power to detain people attempting to enter Australia illegally by boat.


The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said that new delegations under the Migration Act would see up to six MMOs able to detain unlawful non-citizens.


“At present, Movement Monitoring Officers check, report and monitor the movement of Papua New Guinean traditional visitors who sail in and out of the Protected Zone” said the Minister.


“Under the new delegations, however, they will be able to detain unlawful non-citizens and then liase with DIMA and Customs officers based on Thursday Island as to any further action.


“The strengthening of our border integrity in the Torres Strait will send a strong message to would-be people traffickers that Australia is intent on cracking down on their illegal trade.”


Mr Ruddock said that if the trial was successful, he would look at whether detention powers could be extended to other MMOs. He said any MMO included in the trial would be carefully selected and undergo a comprehensive training process.


The Minister added that, given the nature of these new powers, the relevant legislation would have to be passed by the Parliament. He said the new legislation would ensure that decision makers acted within the spirit of the Torres Strait Treaty when exercising their new powers.


The Minister said that the number of people moving in the area covered by the MMOs had increased by 30% from 28,164 movements in 1997/98 to 36, 694 movements 1998/99.




Wednesday 13 October 1999


Media Inquiries: Susan Sare (02) 6277 7860 or 0407 415 797



al  1999-10-14  10:56