UNE chancellor denies hiding pub deal

Rumours were circulating in the NSW regional city of Armidale that something was amiss about the new ownership of the Tattersalls Hotel.

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It was January, 2006, and the then-chancellor of the local University of New England (UNE), John Cassidy, had just announced that he had bought a stake in the Tattersalls – not long after the dilapidated pub had been sold off by the cash-strapped UNE student union.

The buyer of the three-storey Art Deco establishment on Armidale’s central mall was Darrell Hendry, who had topped all offers made under a closed tender with a late bid of $2.65 million.

Mr Hendry was well-known to Mr Cassidy, something the chancellor told UNE when he stated on January 20 that he had decided to invest in the Tattersalls only the day before, following an invitation from Mr Hendry.

The disclosure prompted then-vice chancellor Robin Pollard to make a note that there had been rumours “all might not have been above board” about the deal.

This week the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) heard evidence that Mr Cassidy had considered investing in the Tattersalls much earlier.

But on Friday Mr Cassidy took the stand to deny any improper conduct.

The 69-year-old former chancellor spent a day in the witness box denying allegations he used confidential university information to help win the bidding for the hotel and hid his own role as an investor.

The ICAC heard that Mr Cassidy did not just know Mr Hendry, but that the pair had an ongoing business relationship as directors and owners of Vercot, the company through which Mr Cassidy would own his majority stake of the Tattersalls.

Included in the evidence was testimony from Mr Hendry himself that Mr Cassidy had called him up in November, 2005, and told him to have a look at the hotel as it was a good investment.

A confidential university valuation had priced the hotel at $2.35 million, the commission heard – a tag Mr Cassidy considered to be below market value.

On Friday, Mr Cassidy said that phone conversation with Mr Hendry didn’t happen.

Phone call records showed Mr Cassidy made a 16 minute call to Mr Hendry on November 11, 2005 – coincident with the time Mr Hendry mentioned.

“It could well be – I think there was a share buyback (for Vercot),” Mr Cassidy told counsel assisting Anna Mitchelmore.

Mr Cassidy said he faxed Mr Hendry a newspaper ad for the hotel sale because his friend had joked about owning a country pub, but they never spoke about it.

Mr Cassidy also said he was unaware of complex ownership documents Mr Hendry had drawn up by lawyers from December, 2005, committing him as an investor in the Tattersalls.

When one set of documents was faxed to him around January 11, 2006, he told commissioner Megan Latham he did not know what they were about and put them aside.

Asked if he called Mr Hendry to ask about why he had been sent documents committing him as majority owner of a $2.65 million hotel, Mr Cassidy said he could not recall.

Mr Cassidy also said he did not recall a meeting in December, 2005, to interview a potential manager for the hotel and denied evidence from a former Tattersalls manager Steve Snell that he had been found inspecting the upper floors of the pub in November, 2005.

The ICAC has concluded its formal hearings on the matter and will report at a later date.

Market and dollar shrugs off disasters

The share market is pushing through six year highs and the Aussie dollar is stubbornly hovering around 94 US cents despite the MH17 tragedy and escalating conflict in Gaza.

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Aside from a knee-jerk reaction, the geopolitical crises haven’t rattled investors, who continue to chase the high rates of return found in the Aussie dollar and local shares, analysts say.

“Investors have quickly worked out that those events were unlikely to threaten the global economic recovery,” AMP Capital Investors chief economist Shane Oliver told AAP.

“The plane tragedy is a horrible event but the conflict is largely confined to eastern Ukraine.

“There’s nothing that’s going to lead to a major war with Russia.”

While tension in Gaza has escalated, it’s been a conflict that’s been bubbling in the background for years, he said.

“Investors have been jumping at that shadow for many years now and it’s largely seen as a continuation of what we’ve seen in the past,” Dr Oliver said added.

“The conflict in Iraq earlier this year did unsettle markets because of the threat to oil supplies, but that threat has eased.

“These geopolitical crises hit the headlines but as financial markets are concerned, they don’t have lasting impacts.”

Dr Oliver expects the local ASX200 index to hit 6,000 points by at least June next year, a benchmark not breached since May 2008.

Despite predictions the Aussie dollar would fall this year, and the Reserve Bank’s best efforts to talk it down, the currency also remains trapped between 93 and 95 US cents.

Easy Forex senior currency dealer Francisco Solar says many are still predicting it to fall to at least 90 US cents by the end of the year, but it all hinges on the world’s largest economy.

“For the Aussie to push above 95 US cents or to fall below 93 there has to be a change in the US,” he said.

“If the US economy continues to pick up and interest rates rise then the US dollar will lift and the Aussie will fall.

“The big question is ‘when will the US lift interest rates?’

“This is not clear.”

Dr Oliver said an improving US jobs market was a sign the first rate hike in the US was on the horizon.

And while political tensions rise across the world, he predicts the monetary backdrop will remain supportive for investment markets.

Survivors in Air Algerie crash ‘unlikely’

France’s transport minister said Friday it was extremely unlikely, and even “out of the question” that any of the 116 people on board an Air Algerie plane that crashed over Mali had survived.

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“Given the state of the plane (wreck), it is very unlikely, even out of the question, that there are any survivors,” Frederic Cuvillier said.

He’s also ruled out the possiblity the plane was shot down by rebels in Mali’s restive north.

“We have excluded from the start the possibility of a strike from the ground,” he said.

French military forces are enroute to the site where the jet, which was carrying at least 51 French nationals, crashed.

French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said weather was the most probable cause of the crash although authorities were not excluding other potential causes.

Flight AH5017, which took off from Ouagadougou bound for Algiers went missing early Thursday amid reports of heavy storms, company sources and officials said.

The airline said there were also 24 Burkinabe, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, six Spanish, five Canadians, four Germans and two Luxembourg nationals on board.

The wreckage of the plane was found in Mali near the Burkina Faso border.

“We have found the Algerian plane. The wreck has been located … 50 kilometres north of the Burkina Faso border” in the Malian region of Gossi, General Gilbert Diendiere of the Burkina Faso army said.

“At the moment we have no further information on (the fate of) the passengers but our teams are hard at work,” he said.

Diendiere gave no indication as to what may have caused the plane to crash.

A witness had earlier reported seeing the plane “falling” in the Gossi region.

Algerian radio quoted Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal as saying the plane dropped off the radar at Gao, 500km from the Algerian border.

Mali, Algeria, Niger and France co-ordinated their search efforts under the umbrella of the French-led military intervention in Mali, Operation Serval.

“Even though the aircraft was above Mali it was in airspace managed by the control centre in Niamey in Niger,” an air traffic control official said.

Aviation sources said the MD-83 was leased from Spanish company Swiftair.

Its six-member crew were all Spanish, said Spain’s airline pilots’ union Sepla, and Swiftair confirmed the aircraft went missing less than an hour after take-off.

“The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route,” an airline source said.

“Contact was lost after the change of course.”

The plane had apparently been given the “all clear” following an inspection in France only this week, French civil aviation authority DGAC said.

In France, two crisis units were set up, one at the DGAC and another at the foreign ministry, in addition to two further centres at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris and at Marseille airport.

DGAC said many passengers had been due to catch onward connecting flights to Paris and Marseille.

Informer ‘at risk of ambush’ before death

Police informer Terence Hodson thought he would be safer in his Melbourne home than in witness protection, despite being told he risked being ambushed in the room where he and his wife were found dead.

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Mr Hodson and his wife, Christine, were found murdered in the back room of their Kew home in May 2004, before Mr Hodson was due to give evidence against two detectives in a criminal trial.

An inquest into their deaths on Friday heard Mr Hodson had received a phone call implying he should keep his mouth shut.

Mr Hodson, a long-time police informer, was to be the key witness over the burglary of a drug stash allegedly involving him and drug squad members Paul Dale and David Miechel.

Former Ethical Standards Department detective Murray Gregor said he had made a number of offers for Mr Hodson and his family to join the witness protection program, but Mr Hodson declined, saying he felt safe in his own home.

However, Mr Gregor said Mr Hodson had told him he expected “something to happen” and he was afraid of Mr Dale and Miechel.

Mr Gregor said he advised Mr Dale that his home’s rear room was not safe because it was isolated from the rest of the house.

He told the Victorian Coroners Court he feared Mr Hodson was at risk of ambush in the back room.

“I believe that if he kept out of that separate room, in all likelihood he and his wife would still be alive today,” Mr Gregor said.

Mr Gregor said Mr Hodson received a phone call in late 2003 in which someone told him: “Stick together. There’s no need to go on board with anyone.”

Mr Gregor, who investigated the burglary, said there was a message behind the phone call.

“My interpretation of that message was very clear: for Hodson to keep his mouth shut and not go against Dale and Miechel,” he said.

Under cross-examination from Mr Dale’s barrister, Geoffrey Steward, Mr Gregor agreed that Mr Hodson had said he had not felt threatened by the call.

Mr Gregor also agreed there was no evidence about who had made the call.

Former homicide squad detective Cameron Davey said that during the investigation of the couple’s murders, police found that Mr Hodson’s informer reports had been given to a career criminal in Queensland.

Mr Dale and contract killer Rodney Charles Collins were charged over the Hodsons’ murders in 2009, but the charges were withdrawn the following year after gangland figure Carl Williams was killed in prison.

Collins and Mr Dale deny any involvement.

In 2006, Miechel was found guilty of his part in the burglary and jailed for at least 12 years.

The burglary charges against Mr Dale were withdrawn.

Poor weather likely cause of Algeria plane crash

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

 

Investigators believe severe storms may have played a part in a plane crash over Mali that killed all of the more than 100 people on board.

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They say the pilot signalled bad weather was in the area before the jet dropped off the radar.

 

Greg Navarro reports.

 

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

 

In Lebanon, relatives huddled around a picture of their five year-old niece and feared the worst after hearing an Air Algerie flight was missing – the plane the little girl was on.

Their fears were confirmed hours later when General Gilbert Diendiere of the Burkina Faso Army, made an announcement about a discovery in Mali near the Algerian border.

 

(Translated) “We sent a scouting team to the location indicated by locals but unfortunately we do not have any more details but I can guarantee we have found the plane.”

 

The plane, carrying 116 passengers and crew, took off from Burkina Faso bound for Algeria.

 

About 50 minutes into the flight the pilot requested to change course because of severe storms.

 

General Diendiere said a short time later the jet, carrying mostly French passengers, dropped off the radar.

 

French fighter jets were scrambled to find any sign of the plane.

 

(Translated) “One thing is certain. There was a thunderstorm, and I think that may have been the cause of the accident, because the plane did indeed deviate from its route. The pilot said he was trying to avoid the thunderstorm, so we’re thinking that may be the cause of the accident.”

Hours later, the wreckage of a plane was found in the desert in Mali, near the city of Gao.

 

That area has been fought over by rival groups in recent years, including al Qaeda, but there’s no suggestion they had anything to do with the crash.

French President Francois Hollande says the families of those on board deserve to know what happened.

 

(Translated) “I will stay here in Paris for as long as necessary. I have decided to postpone the trip I was going to make to Reunion, Mayotte and Comoros. Everyone will understand. This is a moment of seriousness and pain.”

Especially for those left to grieve and to wait to bring their loves ones home.

 

 

 

Tamil asylum seekers being brought to mainland

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

 

The federal government is pre-empting a High Court challenge against the government’s decision to hold 157 Tamil asylum seekers at sea for almost a month.

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Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the group is being transferred to the Australian mainland on a temporary basis until India can assess if it’s possible to take them back.

 

The 157 men, women and children are being transferred to the Cocos Islands, and from there it’s believed they will be flown to the Curtin detention centre in remote Western Australia.

 

Amanda Cavill reports.

 

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

 

The boat carrying the group left India late last month and was intercepted by an Australian vessel early this month.

 

Since then the asylum seekers have been held on board the Customs ship at an unknown location, while their legal status is determined.

 

Lawyers for the Sri Lankan asylum seekers argue the group was within Australian territorial waters when their vessel was intercepted 27 kilometres from Christmas Island.

 

They say the decision to deatain them on the high seas did not fall within the bounds of legal reasonableness.

 

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says none of these people will be resettled in Australia.

 

“These are matters to be determined they won’t remain in Australia. They will not be resettled in Australia. That is the policy of the Australian Government and there is no change to our policy on any front and more importantly there is no change to our resolve.”

 

Mr Morrison denies the decision to bring them to the mainland was influenced by action in the High Court, which is due to hear the asylum seekers’ case next month.

 

It is uncertain just what effect the Minister’s announcement will have on the High Court challenge.

 

But the Greens’ immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson Young says the court case must go ahead.

 

“Yes it should because this is really important. We can’t be seen, we can’t see a situation where the Australian government acts outside our international obligations with such callous disregard for the welfare of individuals and that’s what we’ve seen for the last month.”

 

Mr Morrison has just returned from India, where he held meetings with ministers in New Delhi about the fate of the group.

 

He says the group will be held until Indian consular officials have had the opportunity to speak to them.

 

Scott Morrison says India has agreed to take back any of its citizens and will consider taking the Sri Lankan nationals who had residency in India.

 

“The Minister for Home Affairs has confirmed to the Australian Government that in addition to India’s standing policy of receiving returns of any Indian citizens, he indicated to me at our meeting that they will also consider the return of non-Indian citizen residents who may be Sri Lankan nationals. This is a significant and generous extension of Indian Government policy on these matters. And we greatly appreciate this consideration and the cooperation that has been extended to the Australian Government.”

 

Mr Morrison says the government will to continue to meet its undertakings to the High Court.

 

He says he is in regular contact with the UN refugee agency, insisting Australia is still complying with its international obligations.

 

 

 

 

Worlds fastest snail crowned at annual titles

(Transcript from SBS World News Radio)

 

The world’s fastest snail has been crowned at the 2014 World Snail Racing Championship in eastern England.

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The event attracts gastropod fanatics from across Europe, to decide the fastest of one of the globe’s slowest creatures.

 

Abby Dinham reports.

 

(Click on the audio tab above to hear the full report)

 

Never has the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ been more true than in this event.

 

For more than 25 years the World Snail Racing Championships have been held in the sleepy English village of Congham in Norfolk, attracting people from across Europe.

 

Competitiors – garden snails only – are placed inside a small red circle on a white cloth draped across a table.

 

On the starting mark, racers move towards an outer ring.

 

The first to reach the perimeter is crowned the winner.

 

(Cheering, then…) “That’s a hell of a good looking snail isn’t it!”

 

150 snails were entered in this year’s championships, each competing in a series of knock-out rounds, before a final selection is chosen for the penultimate race.

 

Event organiser Neil Riseborough says some previous champions had returned to try and reclaim the title.

 

“I think people love snail racing because it doesn’t cost a penny. You can race a snail and end up being a world champion at the end of the day and how exciting is that?”

 

The average garden snail lives between two to three years, allowing competitors only a short career.

 

The title event takes place on a specially embroidered table cloth, which is regularly doused with water to help facilitate the best racing conditions.

 

One racing snail owner from Germany says a meticulous pre-race diet is the key to success.

 

“Well, I think, really, diet is everything, so I raised it on lots of salad. And lots of water, of course. You have to get hydrated for the race. Also, he got a good rest after arriving in England to adjust to the time difference, so I think it’s very fit.”

 

But it was a local who took out the title.

 

The winner – called ‘Wells’ – crossed the line in three minutes and 19 seconds, a somewhat slow time for the event.

 

Judges say the racers were hampered by humid conditions.

 

The next world championships will be held on July 18, 2015.

 

It’s not yet clear if Wells will return to defend the title.

 

 

Ukraine forces take another strategic city

Ukrainian troops have retaken the strategically-important city of Lysychansk in eastern Ukraine, as they press on with their offensive to stamp out a pro-Russian rebellion.

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“Ukrainian forces have raised the flag over the town council in Lysychansk,” the presidency said in a statement late on Thursday.

Operations were continuing to drive the remaining insurgents out of the town, the statement said.

Lysychansk – a city of around 105,000 about 90 kilometres northwest of the rebel stronghold of Lugansk – was seized by separatists in early April at the start of a bloody insurgency that has now claimed the lives of 1000 people, including the nearly 300 on board downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The government offensive against the rebels has made significant progress since rebels unexpectedly fled a string of key towns earlier this month.

Government forces say they are now closing in on the major cities of Lugansk and Donetsk, where the bulk of the insurgent fighters have dug in and pledged to fight to the death.

Meanwhile President Petro Poroshenko asked parliament to pass a vote of confidence in the government on Friday after the shock resignation of premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk piled political uncertainty on to the crisis wracking the country.

“I hope that the strong emotions will calm down and be trumped by cold reason and a sense of responsibility and that the entire Ukrainian cabinet will continue its work,” Poroshenko said in a statement released late on Thursday.

Yatsenyuk quit in protest Thursday after the ruling European Choice coalition collapsed following the withdrawal of several parties, a move that paved the way for long-awaited parliamentary polls to be announced.

Ukraine’s cabinet on Friday elevated Deputy Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman – who has been co-ordinating Kiev’s response to the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 in east Ukraine – to the post of acting premier.

Pro-Western Yatsenyuk – who helped steer the country through upheaval since the ouster of Kremlin-backed leader Viktor Yanukovych in February – lashed out at the decision to pull the plug on the coalition as Kiev is struggling to end a bloody separatist insurrection tearing apart the east.

The break up of the parliamentary majority gives Poroshenko – who was elected in May – the right over the next month to announce a fresh parliamentary election, which has been on the cards since Yanukovych’s toppling.

Achieving elusive justice for flight MH17 victims will be a challenge

By Lorraine Finlay, Murdoch University

Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop condemned the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 as “barbaric” and “an absolute outrage”.

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She demanded justice, saying:

We must have justice. We owe it to the victims and their families to determine what happened and who was responsible.

When 298 innocent civilians are killed in such tragic circumstances what exactly do we mean when we call for justice? What are the chances of justice being done in this case? Can international law realistically deliver a measure of justice that will provide any level of comfort or closure to the grieving families and friends?

Ordinarily, calls for justice rely on demands to investigate, prosecute and punish those responsible. This is reflected in the resolution that the Security Council adopted. It emphasised the importance of a “full, thorough and independent international investigation” and demanded that those responsible be held to account.

Unfortunately, both history and recent events suggest that justice under international law is elusive and difficult to deliver. Several avenues may be pursued. None is swift or straightforward.

Obstacles to an ICC prosecution

 

An ICC prosecution is problematic despite Ukrainian prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s claim of an ‘international crime’ EPA/Andrew Kravchenko

The then-Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, initially suggested that this is an international crime that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should investigate. This is unlikely to occur, for a number of reasons.

Initial jurisdictional hurdles include the fact that neither Ukraine or Russia is a party to the ICC Rome Statute. Russia could also veto any attempt by the UN Security Council to refer the matter.

The ICC itself is limited to considering specific offences. While some have characterised the shooting down of MH17 as an act of terrorism, terrorism is not an offence within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

It has also been suggested that this may be either a crime against humanity or war crime. There are, however, difficulties with both of these characterisations given intelligence reports suggesting pro-Russian separatists mistook MH17 for a Ukrainian military transport plane.

Prosecutors would then struggle to show the act was part of a systematic attack directed against a civilian population or that a civilian object had been intentionally targeted. They would need instead to rely on recklessness in verifying a military target to establish a war crime.

The most significant challenges facing any ICC prosecution are practical. Finding the necessary evidence when the integrity of the crash site was so comprehensively compromised in the days after the disaster is going to be enormously difficult.

The ICC will also rely on the cooperation of individual states, notably Russia, to ensure that the responsible individuals and relevant evidence are handed over. The releases of images and videos reportedly showing the MH17 missile launcher in the area and then being moved into Russia is concerning in this respect.

Video posted by the Ukranian Ministry for Interior claiming to show the Buk missile launcher being driven towards Russia.

Russia did ultimately vote in favour of the Security Council resolution, which included a demand that all states cooperate fully with efforts to establish accountability. But Russian cooperation can certainly not be assumed.

Prospects for a domestic court trial

It is more likely that any criminal prosecution will take place in a domestic court. This has the advantage of likely being a faster option than the notoriously slow ICC processes.

The most obvious state with jurisdiction is Ukraine, which has a clear territorial connection. There are, however, difficulties, given both the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the political reality that Russia will be less likely to cooperate with a prosecution that it would see as being inherently biased.

Any other state would first need to establish jurisdiction. One possibility is the Netherlands, which lost 193 citizens in the tragedy. The Netherlands’ International Crimes Act allows Dutch criminal law to be applied to war crimes or crimes against humanity committed abroad against Dutch nationals. Dutch public prosecutors have formally opened an investigation of the crash, which is the first step towards a domestic prosecution.

Any criminal prosecution, whether international or domestic, will face the practical challenges outlined above. That is, the initial interference with the crime scene and the likely need for Russian cooperation present significant hurdles. This will not be a straightforward prosecution wherever it occurs.

Can a state be held responsible?

A further possibility is that a state may be held responsible, as opposed to individuals. This would allow a case to be started before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

There is evidence of strong links between Russia and the separatists who appear to be responsible for shooting down MH17. This includes Russia providing weapons and training throughout the Ukrainian conflict.

The White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes recently acknowledged, however, that a “direct link” between Russia and the missile launch had not been established. In particular, it isn’t clear whether any Russian operatives were present at the launch. Nor is it clear whether Russia provided either the weapons or training to those who used them.

To attribute the conduct of individuals to a state, that state needs either to exercise effective control over the conduct, or to subsequently acknowledge and adopt it as its own.

It is difficult to argue that Russia has “acknowledged and adopted” the conduct of the separatists, particularly in light of its support of the UN Security Council resolution. The “effective control test” will also be difficult to satisfy. A high degree of control over the specific operation is required to be demonstrated at international law.

The acknowledged lack of a “direct link” at the present time suggests that current evidence is not sufficient to establish this case.

Can justice be delivered?

Clearly, considerable hurdles must be overcome before any individual or state will be held legally responsible for the deaths of the 298 passengers and crew aboard MH17. The most promising option would appear to be a domestic prosecution by a country like the Netherlands.

However, the contamination of the crime scene has made any prosecution significantly more difficult. Russian co-operation will likely be essential to any successful prosecution.

Justice under international law is often a frustratingly elusive concept. The UN Security Council resolution is a positive step, which signals an international commitment to seek accountability in this case, but there is still a long way to go before justice is delivered.

Lorraine Finlay does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

Asylum seekers head to Australia

The arrival of 157 asylum seekers held on a Customs ship for nearly a month to the Australian mainland will end the federal government’s six-month drought of boat arrivals.

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But the government remains adamant it is not a sign its border protection policy is weakening.

The asylum seekers are reportedly set to travel from Cocos Island to Curtin detention centre in Western Australia within days.

They have been detained at sea in an undisclosed location since their vessel was intercepted 27km from Christmas Island on July 7.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison on Friday would not confirm the transfer details but said the group will be moved to Australia to undergo identity checks from Indian consular officials.

India has agreed to take back any of its citizens and will consider taking Sri Lankan nationals who are Indian non-citizen residents.

Mr Morrison remained steadfast when questioned how the public should react to the development given his promise to stop the boats.

The government was resolved as ever to get the results it sought, he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said this was the first boat that had come so close to Australia in the past six or seven months, proving the need for “permanent vigilance” to secure its borders.

He expected many of those detained would return home.

“Even if you get here, you won’t stay here,” he told reporters in Canberra.

The decision pre-empts the hearing of a High Court challenge against the government’s decision to hold the asylum seekers at sea, due the week after next.

Lawyers for the group say it’s still unclear what their clients’ legal rights will be once they reach the mainland.

They have yet to inform the asylum seekers of their options under Australian law and are waiting for the government to advise the High Court on the details of the transfer.

“This is a short-term reprieve, but welcome for the time being,” Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser told AAP.

Labor and the Australian Greens accused Mr Morrison of losing control of his portfolio, saying the decision to bring the group to the mainland should have been made earlier.

“A few weeks ago, Scott Morrison refused to even confirm these 157 people existed,” Labor’s acting immigration spokeswoman Michelle Rowland told AAP.

“His border protection policy is in a complete shambles – his job is now being done by the High Court.”