Paige Taylor in Weekend Australian,30 May 2019, with this title “Peter Dutton warns more illegal boats may be headed to Australia”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the government is concerned more illegal boats are headed to Australia, after a vessel carrying 20 Sri Lankans was intercepted by Border Force. Anthony Albanese has demanded a security briefing today from Scott Morrison as it was revealed the first boat had arrived on the shores of Christmas Island in five years, and that the vessal had set sail weeks into the federal election campaign.
Mr Dutton said the Sri Lankan arrival was “very disturbing” and that people smugglers had been marketing a change of government to asylum seekers before the Coalition’s shock election win. “It’s a very disturbing development and, without going into all of the details, it’s not the only vessel that we’re worried about,” the Home Affairs Minister told Sydney’s 2GB radio.
“Obviously people thought there was going to be a change of government… people smugglers have been marketing this. But we want to send a very clear message to people here who might try and organise ventures for people offshore. The Prime Minister and I are absolutely resolute in making sure that we can never allow people to come here by boat.”
Albo demands security briefing
Anthony Albanese is demanding a security briefing from Scott Morrison on the first illegal boat to make the shores of Christmas Island in five years. As revealed by The Australian this morning, a naval ship intercepted 20 Sri Lankans who set sail for Australia during the federal election campaign. They were returned to Colombo on a government charter jet in the early hours of yesterday.
Mr Albanese, in his first major national security test as Labor leader, this morning said he wanted a meeting with the Prime Minister this afternoon to discuss the boat arrival. “There have been 10 boats come, as I read it, from Sri Lanka on this government’s watch. 10. Not one,” the incoming Opposition Leader said in Canberra ahead of today’s Caucus meeting.“There was an event in Easter, 250 people died in a terrorist attack. I don’t know, I haven’t had the opportunity of a security briefing on this.
“I am actually standing here, as not yet the leader of the Labor Party. I have been a phone call in, by the way, to Scott Morrison’s office this morning. I think it is the respectful thing to do for me to have a discussion with the Prime Minister this afternoon and I have taken that initiative.
“That is the way that I’ll have disagreements with Scott Morrison. I’ll have big ones. But I respect the office of Prime Minister. That is the respectful thing to do and that is why I did it.”
Mr Albanese opposed Bill Shorten’s moves to support boat turnbacks at the 2015 Labor conference but has since said he would support the policy.
Operation Sovereign Borders became aware of the latest vessel, which tracked across the Indian Ocean towards Australia’s northwest coast, during aerial patrols of Australian waters last week, The Australian understands. The Department of Home Affairs was in touch with Sri Lankan authorities around the time officers intercepted the boat.
The asylum-seekers — including at least one baby — left Sri Lanka in the first week of May, soon after the Easter terror attacks on churches and hotels that killed 250.
The group spent “a few days” in detention on Christmas Island while health and security checks were carried out. None was deemed to have a legitimate claim to asylum in Australia, according to government sources. Once the vessel was intercepted, those on board were given water and life jackets. They were then taken on the navy ship to Christmas Island. Detention facilities on the Australian territory, 1550km northwest of the mainland, were recently reopened to accommodate refugees and asylum-seekers on Nauru and Manus Island found to need medical assessments in Australia.
Yesterday’s returns bring to 186 the number of men, women and children from 10 people-smuggling ventures who have been returned to Sri Lanka since the Coalition came to power in September 2013. More than 50,000 asylum-seekers came to Australia by boat under the previous Labor government and an estimated 1200 drowned trying over that six-year period.
The Coalition’s subsequent hardline measures to end the boat trade resulted in asylum-seekers from a range of countries being turned away before they reached Australian waters.
Some were turned back towards Indonesia in lifeboats; others were delivered to their country of origin on Australian navy vessels. On occasion, asylum-seekers were brought ashore briefly at locations including the Australian atoll of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Darwin before being flown home.
In August last year, Vietnamese nationals who made it to the Daintree forest in Queensland were flown to Christmas Island then flown home.
Australian authorities used to take days, sometimes weeks, to assess whether an asylum-seeker who arrived by boat had a claim for protection that warranted further investigation. A fast-tracked process was introduced when Julia Gillard was prime minister. It meant asylum-seekers could be screened even while still on a navy or Customs vessel. The process involved asking asylum-seekers questions, using interpreters by video link if necessary.
During the election campaign, then Labor leader Bill Shorten was questioned on his commitment to border security and said he supported turnbacks. Scott Morrison, the architect of Operation Sovereign Borders when he was immigration minister, championed his government’s credentials on border security and success in stopping the flow of asylum-seekers to Australia by boat. Mr Shorten told an audience at an election debate he had convinced his party to accept that position too.
“I accept the lessons of the past. And I accept that where the Liberal Party has an idea or parts of an idea which I think work, I’ll adopt it,” Mr Shorten said.
AND then allocate time to examine the listing within this presentation