New Zealand is reportedly the easiest route for asylum seekers to take, according to people-smugglers who charge $17,000 per person. Reports said that people-smugglers in Indonesia are promising safe passage to New Zealand via shipping containers.
The smugglers are looking for "customers" who want to take the "cruise ship" option. A news agency Australia has investigated the alleged asylum seeker cruise to New Zealand.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has warned those who were thinking about taking the offer of people smugglers to not go on the trip. Minister Woodhouse reminded would-be asylum seekers that a law has been passed in June 2013 for New Zealand to deal with mass arrivals.
Mr Woodhouse said that the country is prepared to handle the situation. In an investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald, secret recordings of people-smugglers suggested that New Zealand is being promoted as the easiest route for asylum than Australia.
According to the recordings, asylum seekers were told it was easier for them to bring their families to New Zealand and gain permanent residency for 45 days. Mr Woodhouse said the people smugglers were not only criminals but also liars.
Australia has been stepping up its crackdown on asylum seeker boats, attempting to cross the country. The asylum seekers were sent to Nauru or Papua New Guinea.
People-smugglers in West Java, Indonesia, were becoming desperate for customers, according to the investigation. A dozen smugglers are actively seeking people to go on a cruise to New Zealand. Potential asylum seekers in Cisarua, West Java, reportedly said some smugglers were offering safe passage to New Zealand or Darwin in a shipping container scheduled to leave Bali or West Papua. Those who were willing to take the trip had to pay US$9,660 to US$16,899 per person.
A recording was obtained by the Australian paper from Muhammad Ali, a smuggler who said that he could get Afghan asylum seekers from Jakarta to West Papua by air. After arrival, they will then be occupying a shipping container bound for New Zealand for seven days.
The smuggler was caught on tape saying New Zealand is better for asylum seekers than Australia. He was quoted as saying New Zealand "is a golden opportunity" since they can take their families after proving they are also under threat.
The New Zealand government's Immigration Act was amended to allow immediate detention of asylum seekers in mass arrivals, usually 30 people or more.
To contact the editor, e-mail: