Australia to Hold Weekly Briefing on Asylum Seeker Boat Arrivals

Australia will begin weekly briefings today on asylum-seeker arrivals by boat, as the government seeks to curb the number of vessels coming to the country.

Additional briefings will be held as necessary, Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison said in an e-mailed statement yesterday. Under the former Labor government, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service informed the media every time an asylum-seeker boat was intercepted in Australian waters, according to Sky News.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledged to “stop the boats” when campaigning for the nation’s Sept. 7 election, in which his coalition has won 90 seats in the 150-member lower house to Labor’s 55.

Abbott repeated that promise in his victory speech, along with plans to scrap former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s carbon-price system in his first term, increase investment in roads and put the federal budget on track to a surplus.

“People smugglers use information as a tactic to ply their trade,” Morrison said in yesterday’s statement. “Taking control of how that information is released denies people smugglers the opportunity to exploit such information.”

The government will also update detention and bridging visa statistics for boat arrivals monthly, he said.

The change in how the Australian public is notified of boat arrivals is “counter-productive,” the Labor party’s Bill Shorten, who is vying for the party leadership after Kevin Rudd resigned, said earlier yesterday.

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