AUSTRALIA IMMIGRATION POLICIES UNDER NEW ATTACK

SYDNEY, Australia (ABC News Online, July 3) - The federal government's immigration policies are at the center of another political storm after it was revealed a Vietnamese vessel reached Australia's migration zone, before being towed back out to sea.

The 53 suspected asylum seekers on board are now being transported to Christmas Island.

The Federal Government confirmed late yesterday that the vessel had entered the migration zone off the Western Australian coast.

Labor's immigration spokeswoman Nicola Roxon said the boatpeople should have been detained there.

"To then transport them 1,800 kilometers away to Christmas Island to be processed really seems quite bizarre to me," she said.

Greg Barns from the Refugee Group A Just Australia said it is unacceptable.

"It's extraordinary that in a democratic country like Australia... that people can be forcibly removed from Australia's jurisdiction without any regard to their rights," he said.

A Government spokeswoman said now its been confirmed the boatpeople did travel further into Australian waters than first thought they will be granted all entitled legal access, but she said that can happen from Christmas Island.

Meanwhile, a Federal Parliamentary Committee will travel to Christmas Island today to inspect the detention facilities there.

Committee member and leader of the Democrats, Andrew Bartlett said he wants to speak to some of the Vietnamese boatpeople when they arrive on Saturday.

"To get their story to hear their feelings to see and find out from them perhaps what their reasons are for undertaking such a risking voyage and just how they're finding things," he said.

July 4, 2003

ABC News Online: http://abc.net.au/news/ 

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