The National, Tuesday, June 7th 2011
THE destruction of 12 canoes and outboard motor powered dinghies used by a group of Papua New Guineans to enter Australia in late 2010 “brings to an end the saga of unlawful entry into Australian waters and unfounded claims for citizenship”, an Australian official says.
On May 30, Australian officials destroyed the canoes used by a group of Papua New Guinean members of
the Papua Australia Plaintiff United Affiliates (PAPUA) group, who entered Australia illegally despite warnings not to do so.
The day-long operation in Far North Queensland, overseen by the Australian fisheries management authority and the department of immigration and citizenship, followed the seizure of the canoes and outboard motors and the serving of formal notices of their forfeiture to canoe owners in coastal communities near Daru, in PNG.
An immigration spokesman said the destruction of the canoes would send a strong message that anyone who entered Australia unlawfully by boat would be intercepted.
“Their boats were used to commit an offence, and were, therefore, confiscated and ultimately destroyed,” the spokesman said.
“The group was placed in immigration detention and then returned to their country of origin.
“The department followed the due process required by legislation and contacted the canoe owners to provide them with opportunities to address the forfeiture order.
“The owners failed to take any action and the boats were condemned as forfeited to the Commonwealth.”