Australia says 'broken the back' of people-smugglers
SYDNEY (AFP) - New policies targeting asylum-seekers taking boats to Australia had "broken the back" of the people-smuggling trade, Immigration Minister Tony Burke said on Monday, claiming victory on the sensitive election issue.
Burke said the ruling Labor party's plan to send all asylum-seekers arriving by boat to Papua New Guinea and Nauru in the Pacific for permanent resettlement - taking life in Australia off the table as an incentive - was working.
In the first month of operations the number of boat arrivals had more than halved from 4,236 in July to 1,585 in August, with just two vessels carrying a total of 58 passengers arriving in the past seven days, he said.
"While there will be a few more boats that will test our resolve and that will come, and a few more people that will take the risk, we have broken the back of the people-smuggling trade," he told reporters.