13 Jul 2013

Boat with 197 asylum seekers intercepted

7:52 am on 13 July 2013

An asylum seeker boat carrying 197 passengers has been intercepted off Christmas Island. The group is the second largest to arrive so far this year.

HMAS Bathurst and a Customs vessel, the Triton, assisted the vessel after it sought assistance northeast of Christmas Island on Thursday night.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said those on board have now been transferred to Christmas Island for initial security, health and identity checks.

Most asylum seeker boats carry fewer than 100 passengers but AAP reports one carrying 204 was intercepted on 2 June.

The opposition said the arrival of this boat showed people smugglers had not skipped a beat with Labor's change of leadership.

"Almost 1600 people have arrived on 18 boats in just the two weeks since Kevin Rudd returned to the prime ministership. And Kevin Rudd has no plans to stop them," said immigration spokesman Scott Morrison in a statement.

Opposition justice spokesman Michael Keenan said boats were arriving more frequently and carrying more people.