Rod McGuirk
Associated Press
February 9, 2014

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Friday that no asylum seeker had reached Australia by boat in 50 days, the longest period since 2008, describing the measures to turn them back as tough but effective.

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that the Australian navy sent 34 asylum seekers from Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal who attempted to reach Australia aboard a rickety Indonesian boat back to the main Indonesian island of Java on Wednesday night in a lifeboat.

The government maintained its policy of refusing to say whether it had ever turned back asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australia by boat. Abbott has likened Australia’s operations against people smuggling to a war footing, and border policing activities are shrouded in unprecedented secrecy.

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