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The Rudd Government has passed another unwanted asylum seeker milestone after the 60th boat for 2010 was intercepted last night.

The number of boats stopped in the first five months of 2010 is now equal to the number intercepted during all of 2009.

In 2008, seven boats were intercepted, and in 2007 one boat was intercepted a few weeks after Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister.

The record for the number of boats reaching Australian waters in a year is 86, set in 1999.

The Customs vessel Hervey Bay intercepted the boat vessel south west of Ashmore Islands yesterday evening, a statement said.

It is believed 39 passengers and two crew were on board the vessel.

The group will be taken to Christmas Island for security, identity and health checks, and their reasons for travel will be established.

The influx of asylum seekers has led to overcrowding on Christmas Island, where all boat people are taken as a first port of call for processing.

The big squeeze has prompted Immigration officials to sound out church groups to provide convents, monasteries and boarding houses to house families with children or unaccompanied minors.

In March, Mr Rudd said the coalition had achieved the "Gold, Silver and Bronze" for boat arrivals because it had the record for the most asylum seekers in a year, the most boats in a year and the most boats in a month - during 1999.

But Labor broke this latter record in March and April, and is on track to beat the most boats in a year based on the current rate of arrival.