Australia's PNG asylum-seeker solution takes effect as first batch of boat people arrive
SYDNEY (AFP) - The first asylum-seekers to be sent to Papua New Guinea under Australia's hardline new boat people policy arrived on Thursday, with the government declaring people-smugglers no longer have a product to sell.
Their arrival formally brought into effect an arrangement agreed on July 19 under which those who turn up in Australia on unauthorised boats will be sent to PNG for processing and resettled there - even if judged to be genuine refugees.
The 40 asylum-seekers, mainly Iranian and Afghan men, were flown from Australia's Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island on Wednesday night, accompanied by Australian police and medical staff, the immigration department said.
Immigration Minister Tony Burke said it showed Canberra was serious about not resettling boat people in Australia.