Minasa Bone returns to Indonesia

Joint Media Release with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
VPS 006/2003

The Minasa Bone, the boat that arrived illegally near Melville Island on 4 November, has returned to Indonesia following its escort back to international waters near Indonesia.

We have been informed by the police in the port of Saumlaki that the 14 passengers and four crew are currently in their care. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are in Saumlaki and are consulting with the police regarding the ongoing care and further movement of the 14 passengers.

This successful return is another example of the continuing success of our existing regional cooperation model, and our excellent working relationship with Indonesia on combating people smuggling.

The Australian Government warmly thanks the Indonesian Government for its assistance.

This is only the second unauthorised boat arrival so close to the Australian mainland since August 2001, reinforcing how successful our efforts have been, bilaterally and regionally, in combating people smuggling.

But it also demonstrates the need for constant vigilance and reinforces the Government's approach to border protection.

The return of this vessel will send a strong message to those who would try to enter Australia illegally, and those people smugglers who try to exploit these people.

The passengers on the Minasa Bone did not claim asylum in Australia.

If they were to claim asylum in Indonesia, the regional cooperation arrangements in place in Indonesia would provide the basis for their care and consideration of any claims.

As has occurred in the past with unauthorised arrivals at excised offshore places, Australia will continue to meet its obligations under the Refugees Convention and other international treaties wherever such obligations arise.

9 November 2003

Media Inquiries: Mr Downer's office: Chris Kenny 0419 206 890 Senator Vanstone's office: Damon Hunt 0419 691 944


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