ABC News Online

By Siobhan Heanue.

The head of Customs says video of the shipwreck that killed up to 50 asylum seekers off Christmas Island is deterring other people from making the journey.

Customs and Border Protection chief executive Michael Pezzullo made the observations at a US Studies Centre conference in Sydney.

But his comments came as a boat carrying 59 passengers and two crew was intercepted near Christmas Island today.

Mr Pezzullo says the removal of top targets from the people smuggling chain has also stymied the flow of asylum seekers travelling by boat to Australia, because the operators that have moved up the chain to replace them are not as effective.

He also believes the Federal Government's deal with Malaysia will have a big impact on reducing the flow of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat.

One month ago, the Government announced it would send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in return for 4,000 confirmed refugees, but a final agreement has not been reached.

Mr Pezzullo says the deal will make it impossible for smugglers to market a trip to Australia at a cost of between $5,000 and $7,000 if there is a risk asylum seekers will be flown to Malaysia instead.

The Government says the latest boat arrivals will be taken to Christmas Island but then sent on to another country.

The latest arrival is the sixth since the announcement of the Malaysia pact, and each time the Government has said the asylum seekers would be taken to another country.

It is not clear, however, if Malaysia will accept those who have come before the deal is signed.

The Opposition says the arrival of another boat near Christmas Island shows people smugglers do not believe the Government will strike a deal with Malaysia.

"The fact that 300 have come down since the Malaysian swap deal was announced just shows you the people smugglers don't take the Labor Party seriously on these questions of border protection," said Opposition customs spokesman Michael Keenan.

The Government, meanwhile, says claims for asylum by refugees sent to Malaysia will not be assessed under Australian laws.

Attorney-General Robert McLelland says people sent to Malaysia will be subject to their laws and will be overseen by the United Nations.

He says the Government will be involved in the appeals process.

"The Minister for Immigration will be involved in that process and in discussions with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, just as he will be in discussions with the UN Commissioner for Refugees in respect to identifying and prioritising those 4,000 people who will be coming to Australia," he said.

Michael Pezzullo is the Chief Operating Officer of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and was a speaker at was a speaker at the