Australia

Send Qld boat arrivals to Nauru: Minister

Federal MP Steve Ciobo says suspected asylum seekers in Queensland should be sent to Nauru. (AAP)

Defence Industry Minister Steve Ciobo has argued asylum seekers on the run in Queensland crocodile country should be taken into custody and sent to Nauru.

Asylum seekers on the run in crocodile country north of Cairns should be rounded up and shipped to detention on Nauru, cabinet minister Steven Ciobo says.

Fifteen foreign nationals have been detained and authorities are searching for others who abandoned an illegal fishing vessel that ran aground in the Daintree.

"Those people if we can find them, they should be taken into custody, so to speak, and they should be sent to Nauru," Mr Ciobo told Sky News on Monday.

"Or they should be sent somewhere offshore if we're able to do it under our international obligations."

Labor senator Murray Watt also backed the call to send the asylum seekers to Nauru.

Australia is legally obliged to process onshore the protection claims of people who arrive in the country.

The discovered vessel - which authorities believe came from Vietnam - flies in the face of the coalition government's claims to have "stopped the boats".

It is the first people-smuggling boat to enter Australia in more than 1400 days.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned there were 14,000 people in Indonesia waiting to come to Australia.

"The threat of people smugglers hasn't gone away," Mr Dutton told reporters in Queensland.

"We need to make sure firstly that the people are safe in place, and then we can start the process of deportation as quickly as possible."

Mr Dutton said the asylum seekers could be sent back to their country of origin.

Mr Ciobo, the incoming defence industry minister, said the incident showed there would always be people trying to sneak into Australia.

"If we capture these people, we should be sending them offshore for processing," he said.

"They should not be allowed to stay in Australia. We may not be able to do that under conventions, we'll have to have a look at it.

"I think as a government we absolutely should be trying to make sure that they're shipped off to somewhere like Nauru, for example, for processing."

Locals raised the alarm when they saw a large group of people fleeing the crippled vessel near the mouth of the Daintree River on Sunday.

Those aboard were seen making a risky swim to a beach where some vanished into mangroves infested with saltwater crocs.

Queensland conservatives Pauline Hanson and Bob Katter separately argued the boatload of asylum seekers cruised into the country while the government was busy tearing itself apart.

Her comments amused crossbench senator Derryn Hinch.

"Pauline, I hate to burst your bubble but I doubt these people who are now running through the rainforests of Queensland were glued to TV sets last week looking at our leadership problems," he said.

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