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Authorities stop people smuggling boat bound for ‘Australia or New Zealand’

Steve Price

A people smuggling boat bound for Australia or New Zealand has been stopped in Malaysia before it could set off.

Australian and Malaysian agencies combined forces to bust the operation, which was preparing to send a boat with 24 Sri Lankans and 10 Indians, including 11 women and seven children.

Malaysia’s police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun has revealed smugglers were in the process of purchasing three engines “for the purpose of smuggling migrants to Australia and New Zealand”.

Three people were arrested on January 4, bring the total number of people-smuggling ventures stopped under Operation Sovereign Borders to 80.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says they’ve disabled the network which has been operating since the middle of last year.

He tells Steve Price there are plenty of other people smugglers waiting to get back into business.

“Which could easily happen again tomorrow,” says Mr Dutton.

“We’ve stopped now 80 boats with some 2,500 people on board”.

“Had even eight of those boats got through you can guarantee that hundreds more would have followed because people are willing to pay.

“But at the moment they believe, under this government, they can’t get through.”

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Image: People smuggling boat abandoned at Cape Kimberley in August