Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) has effectively rebuffed people smugglers with the month of July marking one year without a successful people smuggling venture to Australia.
Since boat turn-backs began under OSB in December 2013 only one illegal entry vessel has arrived in Australia - in July last year - with the 157 illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs) on board transferred to Nauru.
Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton said there had been numerous attempts by people smugglers to test our resolve in the last year, but all had failed in the face of disciplined and concerted action by the Australian Border Force and Australian Defence Force under OSB.
Mr Dutton said a high level of vigilance was needed to ensure the integrity of Australia’s borders was maintained.
“The crime syndicates behind people smuggling are continually trying to penetrate our borders, but they stand warned that under the Abbott Coalition Government they will be met with a determined and strong response under OSB,” Mr Dutton said.
“Importantly since December 2013 there have been no lives lost at life at sea in stark contrast to the Labor years when 1200 people died on perilous journeys in unsafe boats,” Mr Dutton said.
Today’s OSB monthly update shows an illegal vessel did attempt to breach Australia’s borders in July, but did not succeed.
“The group of illegal maritime arrivals on board were returned to their country of origin emphasising the ongoing vigilance that is needed to stop the boats and keep them stopped.”
Since December 2013, OSB has safely returned 633 potential illegal arrivals aboard 20 ventures to their countries of departure.
Over the 12 months since the last venture making it to Australia, 235 potential illegal immigrants from eight boats have been returned safely to their countries of departure.
“I congratulate the dedicated and professional Border and Defence Force personnel who are constantly on the waters off Australia safeguarding our borders,” Mr Dutton said.
“The Coalition will never allow a return to the days under Labor when 800 boats carrying a human wave of 50,000 IMAs flooded into Australia.
“The same can’t be said for Labor. After years of failure under Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, Bill Shorten’s Labor remains deeply divided on border protection and he attempts to conceal this division by adopting an “option” to turn-back boats.
“Mr Shorten will never be able to act; his Deputy Tanya Plibersek, Senate leader Penny Wong and other senior frontbenchers remain fundamentally opposed to tough action against people smugglers.
“They will never allow the tough action that is required to keep Australia safe and our borders secure.”