Tony Abbott says 50,000th 'illegal' arrival imminent

A THIRD group of asylum-seekers has been sent to Papua New Guinea under its resettlement deal with Australia as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott warned the arrival of the 50,000th "illegal" boat arrival was imminent.

The 39 single men - 34 Iranians, four Pakistanis and an Afghan - arrived on Manus Island at 7.30am on Tuesday, bringing to 118 the number of people who have been sent to PNG since the Rudd government announced details of its new policy.

Under the arrangement with PNG all asylum-seekers arriving by boat are sent to Manus Island for assessment.

Those people found to be refugees will be settled in PNG, while those deemed not to be refugees may be returned to their home country or a country where they had a right of residence, or held in a transit facility.

News of the latest transfer came as another two boats carrying more than 100 asylum-seekers were intercepted in Australian waters on Sunday. The vessels were stopped north of Christmas Island and north-west of Darwin carrying 72 and 46 people respectively.

More than 1500 asylum-seekers have arrived by boat since the government announced the PNG deal.

Campaigning in the New South Wales Central Coast seat of Dobell, Mr Abbott seized on the news.

"Some time in the next day or so it's almost inevitable that the 50,000th illegal arrival by boat will turn up ... on our shores as a result of the changes that Mr Rudd has made," Mr Abbott said.

"This is a terrible indictment of the judgment of our Prime Minister."

The Greens were also discussing the asylum-seeker issue on day two of the campaign, albeit for entirely different reasons, unveiling plans to establish an independent health oversight panel for refugees.

"The old parties are storming ahead with the race to refugee cruelty as they race to the polls, showing complete disregard for the physical and mental health of the people affected," the party's immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young said.

"The government must listen to the experts and support the Greens' bill to establish a refugee health panel, bringing oversight and health care to the people in remote island prisons."



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