* Australia PM tries to revive Malaysia refugee plan
* Second boat sinks in less than a week between Indonesia
* More than 120 rescued, up to 10 may be missing
(Adds political moves, 123 rescued)
CANBERRA, June 27 The sinking of a second
refugee boat between Indonesia and Australia's Christmas Island
in less than a week prompted on Wednesday Australia's prime
minister to try to revive a people-swap deal with Malaysia and
end an impasse on asylum seekers.
More than 120 people were rescued and up to 10 were missing
after a crowded boat sank on Wednesday in the Indian Ocean on
its way to Australia, less than a week after about 90 asylum
seekers died when their boat sank in the same area.
The latest sinking prompted Prime Minister Julia Gillard to
suspended parliamentary business to debate compromise laws which
will revive her Malaysian agreement and allow for an opposition
plan to process asylum seekers on the Pacific island nation of
"In view of these events and in view of the events of last
week, I want to say to the parliament now most sincerely that I
believe the time for the party divide on this issue is at an
end," Gillard told parliament.
Gillard has an agreement with Malaysia to send 800 asylum
seekers to Malaysia to have their claims assessed, in return for
accepting 4,000 asylum seekers who are found to be genuine
The conservative opposition, however, has opposed the
Malaysian option because Malaysia has not signed the U.N.
Refugee policy and border protection are a hot-button issue
in Australia, despite the fact the country only receives a small
number of the world's asylum seekers each year.
The U.N. refugee agency said Australia received 11,800
claims for asylum in 2011, compared with 441,000 claims
globally, with 327,000 of those claims in Europe.
This year, more than 50 boats carrying more than 4,000
asylum seekers have been detected by Australian authorities.
Gillard said 123 people had been rescued from the latest
boat, which could have been carrying up to 133 people.
Australia's Maritime Safety Authority released a photograph
of the boat before it capsized which showed a heavily crowded
vessel, which looks like it is made of timber. The boat was
about 200 km (125 miles) north of remote Christmas Island and
185 km (115 miles) south of Indonesia.
The waters between Indonesia and Christmas Island are a
common route for asylum seekers, who transit through Indonesia
with the help of people smugglers.
The trip is often dangerous. In December 2011, as many as
200 people died when an overcrowded boat sank off the coast of
East Java. In 2010, 50 asylum seekers died when their boat was
thrown onto rocks at Christmas Island.
In 2001, a crowded boat known as the SIEV X sank on its way
to Australia with the loss of 350 lives.
(Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang and James Grubel; Editing by