8 Jan 2014

Govt considers lifeboats for asylum seekers

6:45 pm on 8 January 2014

The Australian government is considering buying lifeboats to carry asylum-seekers back to Indonesia if they are intercepted on unseaworthy vessels.

According to some media reports, it is buying 16 large motorised lifeboats for ferrying asylum- seekers back to Indonesia.

The news follows revelations on Tuesday that the Australian navy recently turned two boatloads of asylum-seekers back to Indonesia, the ABC reports.

Defence sources say the lifeboats would counter the people-smugglers' tactic of using old fishing vessels and sabotaging them in order to force Australian authorities to rescue those aboard.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is refusing to say whether the government plans to buy lifeboats, saying the information could be used by people smugglers.