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Boat people seeking asylum in Australia

Published: 5:54AM Wednesday April 11, 2012 Source: ONE News

Ten Chinese asylum seekers who planned to sail to New Zealand from Darwin are now seeking asylum in Australia.

Australia's Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, has confirmed the group have decided to stay in Australia amid widespread concern about the dangers of the planned trip to New Zealand.

The men, women and two children had sailed from Malaysia to Darwin, but there were concerns they might not have survived a potentially treacherous voyage to New Zealand.

They were picked up in Australian waters and taken to Darwin after issuing a distress call at the weekend.

"I obviously think that's a good outcome in that it means they won't be undertaking, yet again, another further dangerous boat journey," Bowen said.

"We'll now process them in the normal way."

The group are members of the spiritual movement Falun Gong and say they are on the run from persecution and torture in their homeland.

After arriving in Darwin, they said they want to carry on to New Zealand as they could face a long period locked up in mandatory detention if they stay in Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said officials could not stop the group from setting sail to New Zealand after their temporary visas expire on Saturday because their boat is seaworthy and they have not committed any crime.

One member of the group, a woman who would be identified only as Ms Wu, told The Australian: "We know Australia is a democratic and humanitarian country, but to be detained in (a) refugee camp will remind us of our terrible experience in China, in the detention and labour camp. We don't want to be detained any more. We'd rather risk our lives again."

Now that the group has decided to try to get asylum in Australia, they will be kept in a detention centre while the Australian Government processes their bid.

Processing is likely to be relatively swift given eight of them have passports.

Bowen said the government had not made any special deals to convince them to stay in Australia.

"They've come to their own decision," he said.

"I'm sure it wouldn't have been an easy decision for them; they weighed everything up."

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  • IMWHOIM said on 2012-04-11 @ 12:30 NZDT: Report abusive post

    Were all migrants or the children of the migrants in this land. Be kind to one another!!!

  • kelvynstevens said on 2012-04-11 @ 12:26 NZDT: Report abusive post

    If membership of Falun Gong entitles you to refugee status there are millions eligible, if arriving on a boat entitles you to refugee status any one any where in the world qualifies. Watch the authorities invent new weasel words to deal with this. Most of them don't even have enough lead in their pencil to write out a brief removal notice.

  • benji2 said on 2012-04-11 @ 10:49 NZDT: Report abusive post

    One has to understand the real reason. Why do they want to risk it all the way to NZ, is because NZ is seen as a soft touch, they have seen other illegals get away with it so they thought they would do the same, as in Australia they wouldn't let this happen, shame on the NZ government. Same thing happens in UK, they would rather risk going there.

  • Sailor Sam said on 2012-04-11 @ 10:00 NZDT: Report abusive post

    I assume that these people have current and valid passports. If so the OZ authorities are legally able to let them go. If they don't have passports or already have refugee status in Malaysia, then 1) They cannot set sail from Darwin as they don't have passports 2) They already have refugee status in Malysia and should be sent back there. In any case , the OZ maritime authorities can stop them from leaving Darwin if their boat is unseaworthy or they are not able to sail the boat. What ever

  • Captain John said on 2012-04-11 @ 09:45 NZDT: Report abusive post

    The fact that these asylum seekers in Darwin can not swim is inmaterial. Captain Cook could not swim and neither could Lord Nelson, who was also missing an eye and an arm. Australian authorities have no right to stop them from continuing with their quest to reach New Zealand. I understand that their yacht is seaworthy and I assume that someone on board is the legal owner. If they can cram enough provisions in to their yacht they have about a 50:50 chance of making it to New Zealand. Welcome.