Indonesian authorities had last week detected a boat with 33 people from Sri Lanka, an Australian Minister said yesterday.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says the asylum seeker boat found off Indonesia with dozens on board bound for Australia or New Zealand is a “really significant wake-up call”, The Australian reported.
The news comes after the Turnbull Government last week confirmed that a boatload of Chinese men who reached an island in the Torres Strait had been sent back to China.
Dutton said Australia hadn’t seen “activity on the water” for a long period of time.
“The Indonesian authorities detected that vessel and those 33 people were coming from Sri Lanka with a destination of Australia or New Zealand and it just goes to show — and all of the intelligence indicates this as well — that the people smugglers are trying to get money out of these innocent men, women and children,” Dutton told the Nine Network.
“If the chatter here in Australia is that somehow the policy’s going to change or Labor’s going to go weak on this aspect or that aspect, the people smugglers will quickly be back into business.’’
Dutton said the boat showed Australia had to remain vigilant. “We’ve got lots of resources at sea, in the air, detection, stopping vessels before they get away from foreign ports, but the point is that the threat is still there,” he said.
“It’s not gone away and as we’re seeing on the Mediterranean and in Europe at the moment, there are millions of people that would want to come to a country like ours.”