Accessibility links

Breaking News

Australian Parliament Debates Bill To Discourage Asylum Seekers

Australian lawmakers have begun debating legislation on whether Australia should turn away asylum seekers to discourage them from attempting long, dangerous ocean journeys in small boats.

The legislation would enable Australia's government to deport asylum seekers who arrive by boat to another country in Southeast Asia or the Pacific.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged senators to pass the law before parliament adjourns for six weeks.

The debate has been intensified by two recent deadly accidents involving boats filled with Australian-bound migrants -- many of them from Afghanistan.

More than 90 people, mostly from Afghanistan, are thought to have died when a craft capsized last week midway between the Australian territory of Christmas Island and Indonesia.

Another four migrants are feared to have died in a capsizing on June 27.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP