The arrival of two more boatloads of suspected asylum seekers, one of which almost reached Darwin, strengthens the argument for an independent inquiry into people smuggling, the federal opposition says.
Authorities intercepted two “suspected illegal entry vessels” off Australia\’s north coast on Wednesday.
One was picked up 50km west of Bathurst Island, near Darwin, with approximately 72 people on board.
The second boat was carrying seven people and was intercepted 2km north of Ashmore Reef, Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus said.
The latest arrivals take the number of asylum-seeker boats intercepted in Australia waters this year to 10.
There have been 17 vessels arrive since August, when the Rudd government abolished temporary protection visas.
Those aboard the boats intercepted on Wednesday will be transferred to Christmas Island for health and security checks.
Mr Debus said the interceptions demonstrated the effectiveness of Border Protection Command\’s “targeted surveillance”.
But that\’s not a view shared by the opposition, with its customs spokeswoman Sussan Ley saying the arrivals prove the need for an inquiry into border protection.
“It\’s proving an ongoing pattern of behaviour has been established and the government needs to follow the opposition\’s suggestion regarding an inquiry,” Ms Ley told AAP.
The pattern will not go away.” Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday called for an inquiry into Australia\’s border protection regime.
It should examine whether Labor was warned that changing Australia\’s immigration policies could result in more arrivals, and the effectiveness of current arrangements, he said.
“What we have at the moment is a government which says the massive increase in unlawful boat arrivals has got nothing to do with our change in policy,” Mr Turnbull said on Tuesday.
“That defies commonsense.” Also on Tuesday, four suspected asylum seekers were found on Deliverance Island, about 55km off Papua New Guinea.
They were taken to a temporary detention facility on Horn Island for processing.