Australia says boatpeople ‘floodgates are closed’

October 31, 2013 9:52 am
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott attends the 8th East Asia Summit, at the 23rd Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bandar Seri Begawan on October 10, 2013/AFP
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott attends the 8th East Asia Summit, at the 23rd Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bandar Seri Begawan on October 10, 2013/AFP

, Sydney October 31- Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Thursday claimed his hardline policies to stop boatpeople reaching Australia had been successful, saying “the floodgates are closed, the boats are stopping”.

Abbott’s vow to smash the people smuggling trade and halt the surge of boats carrying asylum seekers to Australian waters was a centrepiece of his election victory in September.

Since assuming office, his government has been implementing its “Stop the Boats” policy, which involves using the military to turn back people smuggling vessels to key transit country Indonesia and sending anyone who arrives to Papua New Guinea and Nauru for processing and resettlement.

Confirmation or the details of any actual turn backs have been kept confidential by the government on “operational security” grounds due to the military’s involvement, but Abbott insisted the scheme was succeeding.

“While there’s still a long way to go I’m pleased to say that the boats are stopping, they are coming at about 10 percent the rate that was happening under the former government in July,” Abbott told reporters.

“Under the former government in July arrivals were at the rate of 50,000 per year. The trickle had become a flow, had become a flood.

“Well I’m pleased to say that the floodgates are closed, the boats are stopping.”

At a weekly briefing last Friday, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said only two boats had been intercepted in the past week, and only one the week before that, marking a sharp reduction from earlier in the year.

Last week, Australia struck a deal with Malaysia to disrupt the transit of asylum seekers through the Southeast Asian nation to Indonesia, where they board rickety, overloaded boats heading for Australian waters.

Without providing details, Morrison estimated that more than half of those who reach Australia come through Malaysia.

Abbott would not comment Thursday on reports that a separate agreement had been reached with the Iranian government to repatriate its citizens whose refugee claims are rejected by Australia, but he said Canberra was talking to other countries about stopping boat arrivals.

“We are doing everything we humanely can to stop the boats. We are doing everything we can to work with other countries to ensure that that’s happened,” he said.

“We are talking to everyone we need to talk to (to ensure) that the message goes out that the people smugglers and their customers that the game is up, don’t try it, because if you try it you will never come to Australia.”Kenya’s overall monthly inflation has dropped to 7.76 percent in the month of October from 8.29percent in September.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) says the marginal decline was due to the drop in overall cost of food items, transport and fuel.

The average cost of a 500ml packet of fresh milk reduced by 5.21 percent from Sh57.43 in September to Sh54.44 in October.

A kilo of spinach dropped by 7.16 from Sh48.13 to Sh44.69 in October while one kilogram of Sukuma Wiki sold at Sh44.74 in October from Sh45.31.

The average cost of a kilogram of cabbages dropped by 1.26percent from Sh51.13 to Sh50.49 while a kilo of tomatoes declined by 1.92percent to Sh62.38 from Sh63.6.
Similarly, the transport index decreased marginally by 0.05 percent mainly due to reduced prices of petrol and diesel.

“On account of notable reductions in the prices of kerosene, electricity and cooking gas, the housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels index declined by 0.16 percent,” KNBS said in its monthly review statement.

A litre of petrol went down to Sh113.07 in October from Sh114.27 in September while diesel sold at Sh104.47 from Sh105.55 a litre.


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