19 Aug 2012

Another asylum seeker boat intercepted

3:07 pm on 19 August 2012

An asylum seeker boat believed to be carrying 17 people has been intercepted off the Cocos Islands.

The boat was sighted by an RAAF patrol on Saturday morning.

The ABC reports those on board have been taken to the Cocos Islands and will be transferred to Christmas Island for health and security checks.

The federal opposition says the arrival is proof that the Government needs to adopt all the asylum seeker policies of the Howard era.

New laws were passed by the Senate on Thursday and by the Lower House on Wednesday.

Opposition border protection spokesman Micheal Keenan says the changes, with offshore processing on Nauru and Manus Island, do not go far enough.

Timetable for processing of asylum seekers pending

The Australian government says it willbe able to give a firmer timetable for restarting offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island after its advance teams return home on Monday.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith says they will consider their reports and then start establishing temporary and subsequently permanent facilities.

The teams have found the facilities on both islands in disrepair and believe getting them fully operational is likely to be costly and take quite some time.

Mr Smith also dismissed suggestions the government should have sent special forces soldiers in to deal with 67 asylum seekers who intimidated their rescuers on the merchant vessel MV Parsifal into taking them to Christmas Island last week.

He said the vessel was thousands of nautical miles from the SAS' home base in Perth and the Parsifal's captain had been forced to make a decision very quickly.