The influx of asylum seekers off the coast of WA poses significant disease and quarantine risks, Premier Colin Barnett says.
Mr Barnett said yesterday he feared the integrity of Australia's immigration program was being undermined by the increase in asylum seekers in recent months and he called on the Federal Government to increase its commitment to border protection with more surveillance and patrol vessels.
"The incident that concerned me most was the case a week or so ago of the boat that actually got to the south of Barrow Island," he said. "That obviously sailed right through the middle of the oil and gas fields.
"Clearly there's a surge of boat people trying to enter Australia and it seems to me that their tactic is simply to get into Australian waters and get intercepted and end up on Christmas Island and be part of the whole process in Australia.
"The ramifications could be the (introduction) of disease, either carried by animals or people."
Another boatload of suspected asylum seekers was intercepted this week in international waters, 370 nautical miles off Broome — the 11th picked up by Australian border protection agencies this year.
Mr Barnett refused to comment on Federal Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull's approach to the boat people problem. Prominent Liberal backbencher Bronwyn Bishop complained this week that Mr Turnbull had gone soft on the issue.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the safety of the community was paramount and the Rudd Government had the most significant border protection regime in operation in Australia's history.
Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus announced yesterday that Australian Customs Service had upgraded its border protection fleet with nine new vessels to be deployed on the east cost to replace older models.