Boat arrivals down to one

29 November 2013 1:50 AM

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Updated: 13:18, Friday November 29, 2013

The number of boats carrying asylum seekers continues to fall with only a single vessel being intercepted over the past week, Operation Sovereign Borders commander Angus Campbell says.

The vessel intercepted on November 27 was carrying nine passengers and four crew, all of whom were taken to Christmas Island for processing.

Overall, 15 boats carrying 751 asylum seekers have arrived since the Abbott government's military-led border protection crackdown came into effect in September.

Lieutenant General Campbell warned asylum seekers not to get on boats to Australia ahead of the monsoon season, saying they would be 'inviting' tragedy.

'The ocean is large, the boats are small, our assets are limited and the weather dangerous,' he said.

Some 11 cyclones are predicted in waters north of Australia this summer, along with large waves of up to four metres.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Lieutenant General Campbell visited Port Moresby on Thursday for talks with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill.

The trio discussed the need to grant security staff search powers at Australia's Manus Island detention centre.

'Search powers enable to us to identify things that maybe in possession of people in centres, if things escalate, that can lead to very dangerous situations,' Mr Morrison said.

A preventative approach needed to be taken 'before things get out of hand'.

The minister referred to past riots at the Nauru detention centre, which resulted in property being destroyed, saying this could have been prevented if authorities had search powers.

Mr Morrison said he also discussed with Mr O'Neill the establishment of a joint oversight committee.

He also warned Labor against supporting an Australian Greens Senate motion to disallow temporary protection visas when parliament resumes on Monday.

'They remain double minded and divided on this and deferring to the Greens,' he said.


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