Today marks the 18 month anniversary of Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB), the Coalition Government’s solution to saving lives at sea and stopping the boats.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the Coalition Government’s commitment to tough border protection measures had reaped benefits for Australia, our regional partners, and genuine refugees.
“Eighteen months ago, Labor and the Greens said the boats couldn’t be stopped. Operation Sovereign Borders has proved them wrong,” Mr Dutton said.
“In the last 18 months of the Labor Government 534 illegal entry vessels carrying over 35,000 illegal maritime arrivals entered Australian waters.
“Since the implementation of turn-backs in December 2013, only one people smuggling venture has arrived in Australia - all others have failed. Those on that one boat also ultimately failed, as they were transferred for processing to the country of Nauru. Those who arrive illegally will never be settled in Australia.
“Most importantly, there have been no known deaths at sea by anyone trying to reach Australia for the past 15 months.
“In addition to saving lives, the success of OSB has allowed the Government to deliver more places in our humanitarian and refugee programme, assisting vulnerable refugees whose situation makes them an unattractive business prospect for people smugglers.
“More than 11,000 people will be resettled from overseas in 2014/15 and we have committed to increasing the programme to 18,750 places by 2018/19. This year, the Humanitarian Programme will give places, among others, to 2,200 Iraqis, 2,220 Syrians and 1,000 women at risk and their dependents.
“Stopping the boats has also allowed our overflowing detention centres to empty and has seen the number of children in immigration detention decline from 1342 when Labor left office to just 115 today.
“Getting children out of detention and into the community is a priority for the Coalition Government and OSB has allowed us to deliver this.
“In a few weeks a total of 11 detention centres will be closed, including Curtin and Scherger, saving the taxpayer over 300 million dollars.
“Finally, the reduction in people smuggling has also seen regional partnerships with a number of our neighbours strengthened over the last 18 months.
“The declining number of arrivals and transfers to the Nauru regional processing centre has allowed the Government of Nauru to transition to open centre arrangements for some transferees.
“It’s been a successful 18 months, but people seeking to come to Australia illegally should not be under any illusion. The Government will continue to implement tough measures to protect our borders and is committed to ending the criminal activity of people smuggling. The illegal way to Australia is closed.
“The question that now needs to be asked is what is Labor’s stance on our successful policies.
“When will Bill Shorten step up and state his position on OSB publically or is his Deputy speaking on his behalf when she said that Labor are “opposed to turn backs.”
“Does Mr Shorten agree?
“Voting Labor in at the next election will open the flood gates to illegal arrivals and fill up the detention centres again. The cost, chaos and tragedy of deaths at sea would return under Labor”