Suspected asylum seeker vessel heading for Dampier off WA’s North West coast

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Updated 20 Jul 2015, 5:39pm

A suspected asylum seeker boat has been spotted off Dampier in Western Australia’s North West region.

A Federal Government source has confirmed to the ABC a boat was sighted and will be intercepted.

The ABC understands the boat could be carrying asylum seekers from Vietnam.

A spokesperson for oil and gas company Modec confirmed crew members on one of their tankers off Dampier sighted what appeared to be an asylum seeker boat at first light this morning.

Numbers could not be confirmed but the spokesperson said those onboard appeared to be in good health.

The ABC understands the North West-based police boat Delphinus has been deployed to search for the suspected asylum seeker boat.

The police vessel had been involved in the search for three missing fishermen and their vessel off the Dampier coast until this morning.

Police have been told the suspected asylum seeker boat was believed to be about 70 kilometres offshore.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it could not comment on the sighting.

A spokesperson for Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the Government did not comment on operational matters.

The Greens have criticised the level of government secrecy surrounding the boat’s arrival.

“There’s no justification for the minister and the department to keep the Australian people and the Australian Parliament in the dark,” Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“Be upfront about what has occurred here, and just have the guts to tell the Australian people what indeed is going on at our borders.”

WA Premier Colin Barnett said he believed West Australian police were “looking after the situation” until a Commonwealth naval vessel arrived.

“This boat while I think it’s approaching our coast is still well offshore and it’s under surveillance,” he said.

“So the situation is in order.

“I think the Abbott Government is doing an enormous amount and has stopped the arrival of boats.”

It is almost two years to the day since an asylum seeker vessel arrived at a floating oil platform 200 kilometres off Dampier with 17 people from Vietnam on board.

First published on The ABC, 20/07/2015

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I am a writer and editor, passionate about helping refugees and about exploring the challenges life throws at us through my writing. A former journalist, I previously worked in publishing and taught French to university students. I am a member of Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney (SASS) and have also served on the board of my children’s school for the past 13 years, including three terms as vice-president. My work has appeared in online and print publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Independent Australia, New Matilda, Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward and Online Opinion. I can be contacted at sebban@tpg.com.au Tôi là nhà văn/nhà báo, và cũng là chủ bút. Với nhiệt tâm muốn giúp đỡ cho người tị nạn và tìm hiểu sâu xa hơn về những khó khăn trong cuộc sống mà chúng ta phải đương đầu qua những bài viết của tôi. Là một cựu phóng viên, trước đây tôi từng cho phát hành các ấn phẩm và đã từng dạy môn Pháp ngữ cho sinh viên đại học. Tôi là thành viên của Tổ chức Giúp đỡ Người Tầm Trú Sydney (Supporting Asylum Seekers Sydney, SASS); và trong 13 năm qua, tôi cũng là thành viên trong ban đại diện hội phụ huynh học sinh của trường các con tôi học, với ba nhiệm kỳ làm phó chủ tịch. Những bài viết của tôi được đăng trên báo và trên trang mạng của những tờ báo như The Sydney Morning Herald, The Guardian, Independent Australia, New Matilda, Eureka Street, Jewish Literary Journal, The Forward and Online Opinion. Để liên lạc với tôi, xin gởi email đến địa chỉ sebban@tpg.com.au