A boat carrying 51 Sri Lankan asylum seekers has arrived at Christmas Island, with the group now expected to have their initial claims for asylum processed there. Unlike various other recent boats, the vessel arrived unaided.
Last month at least 94 people died when two boats capsized on the way to Christmas Island. Both had called for assistance when about 100 nautical miles away.
Since then several boats have made distress calls to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority soon after leaving Indonesia. That has lead to criticism from elements in the Australian Defence Force who say canny people smugglers are taking advantage of a system designed to save lives.
The issue of asylum seekers remains deadlocked in Canberra. Former defence chief Angus Houston is heading a panel of experts to find a way through the political impasse. He is due to report back before August 14.(The Age)