Abbott dodges questions on High Court decision

Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Channel 7's Sunrise program, after the High Court issued an injunction against returning Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka
Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Channel 7's Sunrise program, after the High Court issued an injunction against returning Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka

FACING questions this morning on the High Court's decision to temporarily stop the Australian Government delivering Tamil asylum seekers back to Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Tony Abbott would only say he remained committed to stopping the boats.

Sunrise host and journalist Samantha Armytage asked Mr Abbott whether the High Court challenge would lead him to allow asylum seekers to be processed in Australia.

"What I'm focused on is stopping the boats," he said.

"This is what we are absolutely and constantly focused on because as long as the boats keep coming, we will keep having deaths at sea.

"So, the most decent, humane and compassionate thing you can do is to stop the boats."

Mr Abbott said he would not discuss "what may or may not be happening on the water", except to say it was both legal and safe.

When asked when the 153 Tamil asylum seekers were due to be handed to Sri Lankan authorities, Mr Abbott said he would not discuss "operational matters".



High Court stops 153 Tamils being sent to Sri Lanka

THE High Court of Australia has refused to allow the Abbott Government to 153 Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka, delivering an interim injunction until at least Tuesday afternoon.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on Monday confirmed 41 asylum seekers had already been handed back to Sri Lanka's military after being processed at sea.

However, the minister has remained quiet on the fate of 153 other Tamil asylum seekers on another boat that were understood to be facing a similar future.

The High Court received an application from refugee advocates which held an urgent hearing then issued the injunction.

ABC News reports the 153 asylum seekers made contact with Australian authorities after leaving southern India, claiming to be Tamil refugees.

They are understood to have fled an Indian refugee camp before boarding a boat to Australia.

It was intercepted off Christmas Island more than a week ago.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said those on the boat, including 37 children, were now being held in custody aboard a Customs ship.

"They haven't been handed over to the [Sri Lankan] Navy as yet and the Government needs to start being up front with what's happening to them and what their fate will be." she said.

Topics:  editors picks high court scott morrison sri lanka

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