First boat stopped under new regime

Suspected asylum seekers arrive at Christmas Island. Photo / Getty Images
Suspected asylum seekers arrive at Christmas Island. Photo / Getty Images

The first group of boat people who could be sent to Papua New Guinea under the government's tough new asylum seeker policy has been intercepted north of Christmas Island.

A brief statement from Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said a boat with 81 passengers and two crew on board was stopped by HMAS Bathurst on Saturday morning, and had been transferred to Christmas Island for health checks.

On Friday Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a new hardline policy on boat people, saying people who arrive by boat will have no chance of resettlement in Australia, and will instead by sent to PNG.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said if elected, an Abbott government would try to make the deal with PNG work.

However, they couldn't strike such a deal from opposition, he added.

Mr Hockey also alleged people sent to PNG by Labor could end up on Centrelink and MediCare "for the rest of their lives'' and that the advertising blitz to promote its deal before an election was "outrageous''.

"Mr Rudd said back in 2007 that government advertising just before an election is a `cancer' and he wanted to stop it,'' he told Network Ten on Sunday.

"Well, the cancer is alive and well under Kevin Rudd.''

- AAP

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