View Comments
Navy takes over asylum boat
The West Australian

More evidence has emerged the Abbott Government is turning asylum boats back to Indonesia, with video surfacing of Australian navy personnel boarding a vessel.

Seven News last night aired mobile phone footage filmed by asylum seekers of Australian sailors taking control of a vessel.

'The back door is closed,' says PM

The asylum seekers say they were intercepted just 30km off Darwin on January 1 and were towed for five days back to Indonesian waters.

Tony Abbott has said repeatedly that asylum vessels would never be towed back under his Government, but he would seek to "turn back" vessels where it was safe to do so.

The asylum seekers say they were treated roughly by the Australian personnel, and some asylum seekers jumped into the water in protest.Australian Defence Force chief Gen. David Hurley said any claims of mistreatment were untrue. Gen. Hurley stopped short of confirming the interception._The West Australian _can reveal Customs ship ACV Ocean Protector recently docked in Singapore, where it is believed it picked up a number of big lifeboats.The lifeboats are likely to be used in an extraordinary plan to send back asylum seekers who arrive in Australian waters in unseaworthy vessels.In his first interview since Christmas, the Prime Minister made no apologies for releasing little information about border protection operations."I'd rather be criticised a bit for being a bit of a closed book on the issue, and actually stop the boats," Mr Abbott said. "I'm pleased to say that it's now several weeks since we've had a boat, and the less we talk about operational details on the water, the better when it comes to stopping the boats."One asylum seeker aboard the vessel turned back from Darwin told the ABC that Australian navy personnel boarded their boat and told them they were being towed to Christmas Island.They claim navy personnel fixed the engines on their boat, then abandoned them in the middle of the night several kilometres from Indonesia's Rote Island.Though Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has decreed that all co-operation with Australia is on hold in the wake of the recent spying scandals, Indonesian military figures have said they are in contact with Gen. Hurley and are working to turn back boats.