WELLINGTON, November 11, 2009 (AFP) – New Zealand does not want to offer a new home to a group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers involved in a stand-off with Australian authorities, the government said. Coleman confirmed there had been informal talks with Australia over the fate of the Sri Lankans but said there was an international agreement on dealing with boat people and New Zealand did not favour taking an ad hoc approach. “We’re wary of rewarding actions that seek to jump the queue for entry to New Zealand. Sending the wrong message won’t help solve similar situations that may arise in the near future,” Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman said Tuesday.
“For that reason the New Zealand government would be unlikely to offer settlement to asylum seekers aboard the Oceanic Viking.”
The 78 Sri Lankans were intercepted by Australia’s navy on October 18 and transferred to an Australian customs ship, the Oceanic Viking, after getting into trouble in international waters near Indonesia.
They have insisted on remaining on the ship, refusing to disembark and enter a detention centre in Indonesia.