Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announces at a press conference in Sydney on July 25, 2014, that a group of 157 asylum-seekers in custody on the high seas for weeks will be taken to Australia and held until consular officials confirm their nationalities.
Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announces at a press conference in Sydney on July 25, 2014, that a group of 157 asylum-seekers in custody on the high seas for weeks will be taken to Australia and held until consular officials confirm their nationalities. AFP PHOTO - William West

Govt denies latest boat arrivals signal change in policy

UPDATE 16.46: THE ABC is reporting that the customs vessel Ocean Protector has dropped a number of asylum seekers off at Cocos Islands.

The refugees have reportedly been taken to the Island's airport ahead of a transfer to the Australian mainland tonight. 

EARLIER: A GROUP of asylum seekers is about to arrive on the Australian mainland but the government is adamant it is not a sign of a change in its border protection policy.

The 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers, who have been held on board a customs vessel for about a month, are reportedly set to travel to Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia this week.

However, the government would not divulge the whereabouts of the Customs boat or the welfare of those on board.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told Sky News Australia the group will be moved to Australia to undergo identity checks from Indian consular officials.

He said the government would not allow any of the group to settle in Australia.

"It is our intention those who can be returned should and must be returned," he said.

"They will not remain in Australia. They will not be resettled in Australia."

Opposition Foreign Affairs Minister Tanya Plibersek said it was extraordinary that Australians were being left in the dark about the asylum seeker's fate.

"It is important now that the government fully answer questions about where the asylum seekers are, where they are going, and what is going to happen to them," she said.


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