Case daunting for boat people: Minister

12:22 pm on 24 March 2016

Asylum seekers have been put off trying to get to New Zealand by boat after a major operation led to the prosecution of a group of people smugglers, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

Michael Woodhouse during caucus run 10.11.15

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A boat carrying 65 people from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to New Zealand last May was intercepted by the Australian navy off eastern Indonesia.

Mr Woodhouse said that for the first time in the 12 years of the process there was a now an agreed plan of action between all countries involved.

He has been attending a conference on people smuggling in Indonesia, with 42 other countries who are part of what is called the Bali Process.

"It's focused on the deterrence, disruption and prosecution of people smuggling but also about the safe return and the welfare of those who are the victims of trafficking."

Mr Woodhouse said the indications were that decisive action taken by law enforcement agencies last year meant boats were not trying to get to New Zealand.

"Clearly the smugglers rely on success. And Operation Sovereign Boarders in Australia, and the fact that the venture to New Zealand was turned around and effectively prosecuted, I think has reduced the attractiveness of attempting that because of the likelihood of success being nearly nil."

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