Gillard performs U-turn on asylum

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The Independent Online

Australia's prime Minister is expected to introduce a new border-protection policy this week as the government struggles to cope with boatloads of asylum-seekers who filled an offshore detention centre.

The new Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, met members of her cabinet yesterday to address the influx of asylum-seekers that occurred while her predecessor, Kevin Rudd, was in office. The opposition blames Mr Rudd's loosening of tough regulations in 2008 for the increase.

Australia has long been a destination for asylum-seekers, with most coming from Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka. The Christmas Island detention centre, built for 800 people, has been overflowing for months as over 2,000 more people arrived by boat this year. In April, Australia suspended refugee applications from Afghans and Sri Lankans, citing improved conditions in those countries.