Officers from the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government agencies have begun a one week joint cross border patrol in the Torres Strait.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the patrol provided a vital opportunity for officers from both countries to familiarise themselves with the villages, people and environment along the PNG and Australian border, and to combat border threats such as the illegal importation of prohibited items.
'Three patrols are staged annually in addition to frequent operational activity, and they allow officers from both countries to show a visible and united presence in the areas visited,' Mr Dutton said.
Patrol locations include Daru, Bensbach, Buzi, Ture Ture and Mabaduan in PNG, as well as Badu, Saibai and Thursday islands in Australia.
Officers will also run community information and awareness seminars to promote the Border Watch programme. The programme helps the ABF receive timely information from concerned people regarding the suspicious movement of goods and people.
'Rich cultural ties are shared between the people of PNG and Australia in the Torres Strait, and the ABF maintains a strong presence to facilitate the traditional cross-border flow of people and goods,' Mr Dutton said.
'In addition, the ABF conducts regular operational activities to monitor, deter and respond to any breaches to the border in the Torres Strait. Recent operations have targeted cannabis, firearms, drug precursors, methylamphetamine and cocaine.
'The ABF has developed strong relationships with partner agencies here in Australia and in PNG. These partnerships have enhanced information sharing and intelligence collection and have also led to operational success through joint agency operations.
'We can be proud of the excellent work carried out by our staff in the Torres Strait. They operate in a unique and remote location, with strong seasonal weather conditions and a challenging maritime environment with many islands. The ABF works tirelessly with its partners to keep the border secure while allowing the proper movement of people and goods to occur.'
The joint cross border patrol runs until December 4.