The unauthorised landing of more than 300 Vietnamese refugees in north Australia last week has sparked off a controversy in the country.
LV: Australian naval patrol boat tows refugees' boat in.
LV: Vietnamese boat with refugees on board.
LV: naval patrol boat leading in.
LVs: boats coming in to Darwin Harbour (5 shots)
SV AND CU: refugees and families eating on arrival at hostel near Sydney. (6 shots)
Because of this latest public protest and election-year pressure, the government may have to change its policy. Chief Secretary for the Northern Territory, Mr Paul Everingham, has called for more defensive surveillance of Australia's northern waters following last week's influx of refugees. He was perturbed that two refugee boats slipped unobserved into Darwin Harbour recently and tied up alongside a wharf. Darwin people are warned that illegal immigrants could introduce exotic diseases, and that they would want work when the state already has a high rate of unemployment. As well as warning off immigrants, the government has sent officials to Singapore and Malaysia to try to dissuade the so-called 'boat people' from sailing for Australia.
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Background: The unauthorised landing of more than 300 Vietnamese refugees in north Australia last week has sparked off a controversy in the country. There have been allegations that some were not genuine refugees, but were actually wealthy businessmen. There has been a growing public protest against the refugees being allowed to enter the country, when some Australian citizens have been refused permission to bring in their overseas relatives.
SYNOPSIS: Since the Vietnam war ended two and a half years ago, more than 700 Vietnamese refugees have made unauthorised landings along Australia's northern coast. This old fishing boat being towed into the Port of Darwin by a navy patrol boat last week was typical of the vessels that brought the latest influx. They had taken 76 days to make the voyage from Vietnam. The latest refugees have revealed that a further 2,000 are on their way by boat to Australia. They consider that country their best bet since Thailand, Malaysia and other South-east Asian countries have recently begun refusing them entry.
Until now, the Australian Government has not turned them away. After processing, they have been boarded at hostels, such as this one near Sydney, and giving unemployment benefits until they have been settled. But the normally-hospitable Australians have become concerned at the large numbers of unauthorised refugees being allowed in, especially following reports that some had arrived with servants and quantities of gold. Under public pressure, the Government has warned off unauthorised immigrants. Before the public unrest, Australia was planning to take some 2,000 Vietnamese refugees by the middle of next year.