SYDNEY - Australia remained adamant its asylum-seeker policy was working despite another boat sinking and nearly 3,000 arrivals since the ruling Labor party announced a new hardline stance last month.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is trailing in the opinion polls to conservative rival Tony Abbott ahead of September 7 elections, has gambled his fortunes on a plan to send boatpeople to Papua New Guinea for processing and resettlement.
While it has slowed the flow of people-smuggling boats, nearly 3,000 asylum-seekers have arrived by sea since the so-called "PNG Solution" was announced on July 19.
Barely 300 have so far been transferred to the poverty-stricken Pacific nation.
''There is no doubt that it is having an impact," Immigration Minister Tony Burke, who has previously cited widespread evidence from Indonesia that asylum-seekers were demanding their money back from people-smugglers, told ABC television late Tuesday.
''Week on week there has been a trajectory downward (in the number of people arriving in Australia by boat)."
But he admitted people-smugglers have recently put on "a surge".
"In the last few days, some of the smuggling operations have tried to put together a bit of a surge and to see if they can overwhelm the current system," he said.