Abbott Government hiding critical details on asylum seekers
OWEN JACQUES - APN NEWSDESKTHE Federal Government is fortifying its stance against releasing critical details about when, how and how many asylum seekers are arriving in Australian waters, even as the Greens and Labor ratchet up the pressure against its policy of secrecy.
In the latest weekly briefing given by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Operation Sovereign Borders commander Lieutenant-General Angus Campbell, each reaffirmed that keeping a tight grip on the flow of information was the key to deterring people smugglers.
Mr Morrison and the Coalition government are under growing pressure to reveal information about their response to asylum seeker policies, including a Senate order for the minister to release more detail.
The minister said on Friday the Senate's demand would be considered, but said the former Labor government regularly defied such orders.
In the past week, three vessels carrying 163 asylum seekers were intercepted on Sunday and Monday, with 97 already transferred to off-shore detention centres.
The centre on Manus Island now holds 1157 asylum seekers, Nauru has 629 and Christmas Island has 22.
There are 106 children included in those figures, including three unaccompanied minors.
Mr Morrison paid tribute to authorities in both Indonesia and Malaysia, crediting Indonesian authorities for helping to stop 1200 asylum seekers from setting sail for Australia.
Lieutenant-General Campbell said people smuggling cartels in Indonesia used any publicly released information from the government about boat interceptions to spruik their business.
"I do not comment on anything that could benefit people smugglers," he said.
The three-star general said no exceptions would be made for women and children because people smugglers were keen to exploit any potential chink in Australia's policies.