Published: Tue, May 08, 2018

Australia says asylum seekers goal New Zealand backdoor

Australia says asylum seekers goal New Zealand backdoor

Mr Dutton said it was clear the threat of people smuggling syndicates remained and it was important to keep Australia's borders strong.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has praised Malaysian authorities for intercepting a people-smuggling boat headed for either Australia or New Zealand.

Dutton expressed fears people smugglers are marketing New Zealand as a "back door to Australia".

'Regardless of New Zealand's policy and regardless of Australia's policy, unscrupulous people with no integrity will promote either destination for their financial benefit without necessarily those victims involved having any sense of reality in either country.

There were 130 Sri Lankans hidden in a rusty tanker off the cost of southern Johor state.

Almost 100 Sri Lankan men, 24 women and nine children were aboard the ship, which was making its way to worldwide waters when it was stopped.

The size of the intercepted vessel indicated it had the capacity to head for New Zealand.

New Zealand Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said: "This sort of venture would put lives at extreme risk in the most vast and treacherous ocean in the world".

"Exploitation of individuals and families by people-smugglers is repugnant and will not be tolerated".

Australia has stopped asylum seekers from attempting to reach its shores aboard rickety fishing boats from Indonesian ports by refusing to allow boat arrivals to ever resettle on the Australian mainland.

However experts have played down the potential for a mass exodus via the high seas, as stormy weather over upcoming months makes boat trips far more risky.

"It is being marketed in the say was as Australia".

Ms Ardern would not say whether she thought the boat could have made it to New Zealand, but she did say what she would do once the asylum seekers were taken off the vessels.

Another five Malaysians were nabbed for suspected involving in the smuggling syndicate.

Additionally, nine Malaysian nationals along with three Indonesians and four Sri Lankans will be investigated for people smuggling.

The police chief said 127 of the 131 migrants will be charged with entering Malaysia illegally.

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