Fury over asylum seeker boat that landed on the Australian mainland: ‘There’s been a catastrophic failure here’

Peter Dutton has called the arrival of a boatload of 12 people in rural Australia a ‘catastrophic failure’ in a hammer attack on the government’s response to asylum seekers.

A fresh political storm is brewing over how a boatload of people arrived ‘undetected’ on the Australian mainland, with the Coalition pressuring the Labor government to explain how a group of people landed on a remote part of the West Australian coast.

The group, understood to be mostly men, were first noticed at remote Mungalalu-Truscott Airbase in the Kimberley region earlier this week.

‘There’s been a catastrophic failure here. People are intercepted at sea and turned around and this is the 10th venture. The public is not hearing a lot about it at the moment, but this is the first one to make it to landfall and it should give Australians a lot of reasons to be concerned,’ Mr Dutton told 2GB on Friday.

The group were detected near the Mungalalu-Truscott Airbase in the remote Kimberley region

It’s not yet known whether the group are fisherman or asylum seekers or how long they had been in the country before they were detected.

The Opposition Leader linked the arrival to a recent High Court decision that ruled that indefinite detention without the prospect of deportation was unlawful, which triggered the release of dozens of asylum seekers into the community.

He shifted blame onto Labor for what he called a ‘hasty’ legislative response to the ruling that he claimed would encourage an uptick in illegal boat arrivals.

‘It’s a pull factor for these people smugglers who are selling their wares again. Unfortunately, tragically, people drowned at sea as a result. You don’t know who’s coming into our country.’

Speaking earlier, Education Minister Jason Clare warned against conflating the High Court decision and the boat arrival incident, arguing they were ‘two separate matters’.

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‘There is an investigation going on, we don’t comment on operation matters,’ he told Channel 7.

‘If people seek to come to Australia by boat, the boat is either turned back, people return to their country of origin, or they are settled in a third country. That was the position of the former government, the same one for our government.’

WA Police have directed inquiries to the Australian Border Force, which refused to provide any detail on transfer plans. The Guardian has reported that the group will be taken by border force authorities to Nauru.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil has also been contacted for comment.

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