Peter Dutton: Thank you very much for being here this morning. I am pleased to be joined by the Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Border Force. The Deputy Commissioner is acting for General Bottrell who is on leave at the moment.
We have a significant announcement to make in relation to this milestone for Operation Sovereign Borders.
We have a year since we have had a successful people smuggling operation and that is good news because we have had no reported deaths under Operation Sovereign Borders at sea.
We have been able to stare down these evil people smugglers that would trade in bringing people to our country and under Operation Sovereign Borders - not to have had a successful people smuggling venture for 12 months - is a very significant outcome.
People should never forget that 50,000 people arrived on 800 boats under Labor's watch. Labor went to the 2007 election saying they would introduce turn-backs when safe to do so and when they got into government they didn't do it.
That is the difficulty for the Labor Party because at the highest levels of their party they are split right down the middle.
Tanya Plibersek, the would-be Deputy Prime Minister in a Shorten Government would not support turn-backs. We know in their leadership group otherwise, their Attorney-General in a Shorten Government does not support turn-backs.
So you need to have the resolve to stare these people smugglers down and the Abbott Government has had that resolve.
I want to also point out that since December of 2013 when we started turn backs, bearing in mind the Government was elected only a couple of months before that in September, we have had 20 successful turn-back operations.
We have had 633 people that would have arrived otherwise on those ventures.
But had those 20 boats got through, thousands of people would have followed them and that was the lesson of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years.
If people smugglers see ventures getting to Australia successfully - even one venture - that is a green light for the people smugglers to be back in business.
That is why the Government has the absolute resolve we have had from day one under Operation Sovereign Borders.
It's why it will remain because we are not going to allow the deaths at sea to recommence.
I'm not going to allow detention centres to be refilled by new children arriving on boats, 2,000 children were in detention under Labor. That number is now down around 100. So there is significant success under Operation Sovereign Borders.
The fact that today we celebrate that we have not had a successful people smuggling venture in a year, and that over the course of the last 18 months or so we have turned back 20 boats and stopped 633 people from arriving in our country is a significant achievement of the Abbott Government.
I'm very happy to take any questions. The Deputy Commissioner can answer questions also and then I might ask him to stand to one side if there are questions in relation to other matters.
Journalist: The boat that was turned back last month, was it from Vietnam and were those people sent back to Vietnam, and how many people were there?
Peter Dutton: There were 46 people on a recent venture that did come from Vietnam and we have negotiated their return to Vietnam.
We have a very clear policy in place and that is that people who seek to come to our country by boat illegally will not settle in our country.
We have worked on a bilateral basis with the Vietnamese Government. Those 46 people have been returned. The boat that they came on has been scuttled and we have been able to stare down that venture and it's a significant outcome and I want to praise the work of the Australian Border Force officers as well as those from Defence because this was a very significant outcome.
Journalist: Do you have agreement in place now with the Vietnamese Government that future boats can be sent back as well?
Peter Dutton: We have a very good working relationship with the Vietnamese Government, but we have these discussions, these negotiations on a case by case basis.
We are working well with the Vietnamese Government and I want to thank them for the effort and for their support in relation to returning these 46 Vietnamese to whom Australia owed no protection. Those people have arrived back safely and a good outcome for Operation Sovereign Borders and a good outcome for the sovereignty of our nation.
Journalist: Can you confirm how many boats have been turned back in the past year?
Peter Dutton: There have been 20 since Operation Sovereign Borders commenced turn-backs in December of 2013.
We have had, not just turn-backs within that number, but also assisted returns and that usage of turn-backs covers all of those scenarios, some of which we don't go into the finer detail for operational reasons. We have had success.
I think the important point to remember in all of this is had those 20 boats arrived, 200 boats or 2,000 boats would have followed them.
That's all of the advice, the best advice we can get.
That's why we need to deal with every venture. That's why, frankly, I don't think the Labor Party has the resolve to stop these boats, to turn them back, to deal successfully with third countries. This is a very important issue for us.
Journalist: Can we just confirm, you say in the past year no boats have arrived. Can you confirm how many boats have been turned back?
Peter Dutton: I'm giving the figure of 20 since December of 2013. I'm not breaking it down from that. We have had good success because we have been able to work with our partners and we have got a very professional workforce in our frontline people.
Journalist: Will the Australian guards who worked for security accused of raping a PNG woman, will they be required to submit to PNG police?
Peter Dutton: This is a police investigation and it will be conducted like any other police investigation involving Australian citizens or international citizens.
Now we work very closely with the PNG Government. My department has a very good relationship with the PNG Immigration Department. I have a very good working relationship with my counterpart in PNG as well.
They are an important partner and they have responsibilities in relation to Manus Island and the Regional Processing Centre that's there.
We want to make sure that people conduct themselves within the law and we will, as I say, the department, also the Federal Police here will work with the PNG police in relation to any of these matters. But I don't have any further comment to make in relation to investigations that are ongoing.
Journalist: [Inaudible]… that the wreckage found on Reunion is from MH370?
Peter Dutton: I haven't had any other advice other than the media reports I've seen. No doubt the PM or Foreign Affairs Minister might have more comment to make in relation to that.
All right, thank you very much.