14 May 2011

First asylum seekers processed under new Australian policy

4:25 pm on 14 May 2011

A boat carrying 32 asylum seekers, intercepted off Australia last night, will be the first to be processed offshore under a new government policy.

The boat was intercepted in the Timor Sea north of Broome in Western Australia at around midnight Friday, the ABC reports.

The arrivals will be taken to Christmas Island for identity checks before being moved to a third country

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen expects they will either be taken to Malaysia or Papua New Guinea to wait for their asylum claims to be investigated.

"The Australian policy is very clear, my message to people smugglers and asylum seekers is very clear: do not come by boat," Mr Bowen said.

The arrival comes just a week after the Australian Government announced a deal with Malaysia to send 800 asylum seekers there for processing, in return for Australia accepting 4,000 refugees who have had their claims processed in Malaysia.