That the Senate-
(a) requests that the Government:
(i) update the chamber on operations undertaken on the high seas which relate to the two asylum seeker boats intercepted by Australian authorities in the past 2 weeks, and
(ii) disclose the whereabouts of the 153 people, including 37 children, who are believed to have left India over 3 weeks ago by boat; ...
The second half of this motion, part (b), was voted on immediately after this division.(See the division on part (b) here. )
Background to the motion
The first of the two asylum seeker boats referred to in Senator Hanson-Young's motion carried 41 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, including four Tamils. The boat was intercepted by Australian Customs and their claims for asylum were assessed via teleconference at sea. Only one was found to have a case for seeking asylum, but the Government says they chose to return to Sri Lanka with the others after being told they would be sent to Manus Island or Nauru. All 41 people were transferred to the Sri Lankan navy and are now facing charges in a Sri Lankan Court.(Read more about the 41 people returned to Sri Lanka by Australian Customs here. )
The second vessel referred to in the motion contained 153 asylum seekers, including young children. The boat was also intercepted by Australian Customs but a High Court interim injunction blocked them from transferring the asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.(Read more about the High Court interim injunction here. ) The Government has undertaken to give three days' notice before returning the asylum seekers. Currently, the 153 asylum seekers are aboard a Customs vessel in an unknown location and it is unclear whether they will stay there until their case can proceed through the High Court.(Read more about the standoff in the High Court here.)