Asylum seeker boats stream in

MORE than 1200 asylum seekers have been intercepted trying to make it to Australia by boat since the Federal Government announced its intentions to re-open processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

Five boats carrying 388 people were intercepted by border protection vessels in the past two days, prompting Immigration Minster Chris Bowen to say it would take time for the new policy to work.

"We'll have internet ads and posters and everything to let people know (about the offshore processing policy)," Mr Bowen said on Sydney radio on Tuesday.

"Some people would not have got that message yet.

"Other people would have got the message, but they'll say, 'Well, I've already paid my money to the people smugglers so I've got nothing to lose'.

"Other people, the people smugglers, will be lying to and we know this happens very regularly; people smugglers just make stuff up about what happens in Australia and say, 'Look, don't believe that, you won't be sent to Nauru'.

"And others will be waiting to see the planes go off to Nauru and PNG, to see whether we're actually serious about this, just as when we announced Malaysia we had a drop in the number of people arriving but we still had some people arriving because they were waiting to see whether we were serious.

"And all the advice to me was as soon as you get a plane away to Malaysia, for example, then the boats will slow very dramatically. So it does take time to work."

The Federal Government adopted in-principle all 22 recommendations made by the expert panel on asylum seekers on August 13.

Legislation was passed in the Parliament that week reinstating offshore processing in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, two of the panel's key recommendations.

Defence crews began the task of establishing temporary processing facilities on August 17.

At this stage the government will only say people arriving by boat without a visa after August 13 "run the risk of transfer to a regional processing country".

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison used news of the latest boat arrivals and revelations of a $650 million blow-out in detention centre costs to attack the government.

Mr Morrison again urged to government to implement "the full proven Howard government measures" - offshore processing, turning boats around and temporary protection visas.

He also questioned why asylum seekers were not being sent to Nauru or PNG.

"Last week, Julia Gillard and Chris Bowen again failed the test of resolve on border protection. They refused to ask Parliament to give them the green light they need to send asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island for processing.

"Right now they don't have the power to send them anywhere and it will be another fortnight before they can get this power. In the meantime the boats continue to arrive," Mr Morrison said.

"John Howard had Nauru up and running 19 days after announcing it. Labor will pass that mark on Saturday. It is now two weeks and counting since Julia Gillard announced Nauru and it will be 13 more days until Parliament resumes."

Mr Morrison's comments came as the Coalition was attempting to distance itself from comments Mr Howard made about industrial relations reform.

Topics:  asylum seekers manus island nauru

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