“Regular transfers to Nauru and more Sri Lankans returning home is further proof that people smugglers only sell lies and make false promises about what awaits people in Australia,’’ the Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, said.
Mr Bowen said the group of men included two from Nauru, 20 from Christmas Island and six from mainland facilities including Villawood and Yongah Hill.
‘‘People in immigration detention can request their removal from Australia at any point in time,’’ Mr Bowen said.
‘‘Those who choose to depart voluntarily can be provided with individual reintegration support to assist with their sustainable return, through the International Organization for Migration.’’
The transfer came as Australian authorities intercepted an asylum seeker boat carrying 72 people north of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands on Friday afternoon.
The boat was discovered by the Australian Customs vessel, Hervey Bay, about 5 nautical miles offshore.
A spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection said the passengers were being transferred to Cocos Island and then would be moved to Christmas Island.
She said that the nationality of the passengers is not yet known.
It is the second asylum seeker boat in as many days that has been intercepted.
On Friday the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, sent the HMAS Broome to rescue 198 people from a boat which was in distress north-west of Christmas Island.
The opposition’s immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison said boats intercepted outside Australian waters should be sent back to Sri Lanka ‘‘to send a clear message that Australia’s borders are closed’’.
‘‘Safe return policies for Vietnamese were a key part of the regional response to the Indochinese refugee crisis in the late 1980s,’’ he said this morning.
Courtesy The Age