THE Federal Government has rushed to excise about 4000 islands off the coast of Australia from the nation's migration zone after the arrival of about 14 boat people near Darwin yesterday.
The move, approved by an urgent executive council meeting yesterday afternoon, is sure to reignite the controversy over Australia's attitude to boat people.
The excision will apply retrospectively and is understood to have taken effect from midnight Monday. It means those on board a small Indonesian fishing vessel that arrived at Melville Island off the Northern Territory coast will be prevented from accessing Australia's legal system.
An Australian navy ship is towing an asylum seeker boat out to sea, away from Australia.
The boat is being towed away from Melville Island, north of Darwin.
The Immigration Department says the boat is carrying 14 people, who claim to be Kurds from Turkey.
Defence Minister Robert Hill says the asylum seeker boat has been fixed and this afternoon is being towed further out to sea by HMAS Geelong.
"It was disabled," he said.
"It has been repaired. It's been, as I understand it, adequately repaired to be able to move itself but not fully repaired.
"And so if it needs to go anywhere under its own propulsion, it can do so."
"The Northern Territory Supreme Court in Darwin has been told that 14 suspected asylum seekers were wrongly removed from Australia and are being detained unlawfully on the high seas.
The Commonwealth has argued that the men are free to go wherever they want in the world except Australia, and their removal from Australian waters was legally valid."
Can't say fairer duck-shoving than that. The rest of the world is these ingrate's oyster. Move on ... and bloody quick smart to boot!