Government refuses to give details on rumoured asylum boats

AMID unconfirmed reports of two asylum seeker boats heading for Christmas Island, the Federal Government has not succumbed to mounting pressure to provide detail.

Greens Senator Sarah Coral Hanson-Young said there were reports that more than 30 children were among those allegedly detained on boats.

She said that was no place for children, especially if they are sick as reported, and called on the government to explain the situation instead of letting speculation run rife.

The Federal Government will not confirm whether a boat carrying more than 150 Tamil asylum seekers is heading to the island nor whether an Australian Customs vessel intercepted a second boat near the island.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison told media on Saturday that there were no significant events to report.

Christmas Island Shire Councillor Philip Woo told ABC he had not seen any indication boats were arriving at the island.

But on Sunday Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan, who was on the island for a personal trip on Friday night, said that Christmas Island staff had been told to prepare for incoming asylum seekers and she saw a "great deal" of maritime activity occurring.

"They had gone out and intercepted people and they had loaded up people on the navy or border protection vessels, and brought (them) back onto Christmas Island waters," she said.

"(Staff preparing for their arrival) hadn't had final instructions that the people would be coming to Christmas Island."

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, a former immigration minister, said he believed the minister's approach to speculation about boats was arrogant.

"What needs to happen is he needs to provide a full briefing to the Australian people," he said.

"He has clearly got information that he has not provided to the Australian people."


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