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POSTED AT 10:03 AM 15-12-2017

Australia deports 29 Sri Lankan asylum seekers

Image Courtesy: Daily News

Dozens of Sri Lankan asylum seekers have been picked up from a boat off the coast of Western Australia and flown back home.

The Herald Sun understands a group of 29 Sri Lankan asylum seekers were intercepted by the Australian Border Force.

According to reports, the group arrived this week and included children as young as 12.

They reportedly left Sri Lanka on a boat on November 17 and were stopped off the coast of Learmouth Beach.

It is understood they were intercepted at sea, likely because their boat was not seaworthy and Australian authorities believed they could not turn it back.

Border Force officials detained the group and put them on a flight back home to Sri Lanka, where they reportedly arrived today.

The Herald Sun has contacted Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton’s office about the incident.

It has been almost three and a half years since a people smuggler’s boat reached Australia’s shores.

But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has warned in recent weeks that people smugglers are watching developments in Australia closely, particularly the closure of the detention centre on Manus Island and Saturday’s Bennelong by-election.

“If we bring them to Australia ... the people smugglers will be there, they’ll be there on Twitter, they’ll be there on WhatsApp, they’ll be there on Facebook, they’ll be marketing,” Mr Turnbull said this week.

“They’ll be saying: ‘Business, the door is open again. The Australians have lost their nerve. They’ve lost their will to defend their borders. Hop on the boats.’”

Mr Turnbull said last month that people smugglers were using the views of former NSW premier Kristina Keneally — who is Labor’s candidate in the Bennelong by-election — to try and get back in business.

“Kristina Keneally wants us to bring all of those asylum seekers from Manus to Australia. That’s what she said, only a few months ago, that is her view,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Now believe me, right now the people smugglers are using Kristina Keneally’s articles, her statements on this as a marketing tool to get people on to their boats, to take them to sea.”

Ms Keneally accused the Prime Minister of “making mischief” and said that “nobody wants the people smugglers back in business”.

Source: Herald Sun

-Agencies

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