Today marks 600 days since the last successful people smuggling venture reached Australia.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said the success of Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) had stemmed the flow of illegal boats to Australia and no doubt saved innumerable lives.
“The Coalition Government’s determination to secure our borders stands in direct contrast to the chaos of Labor’s border failures which saw more than 800 boats carrying over 50,000 illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs) reach Australia and more than 1200 die at sea,” Mr Dutton said.
Since December 2013, twenty five boats carrying 698 people have tried to reach Australia, but been turned back and those aboard returned safely to their country of departure.
Additionally 57 people smuggling ventures have been disrupted before departure resulting in a further 1900 people not attempting a risky voyage.
“However we cannot take that success for granted, we must remain vigilant and resolute, the people smugglers will seek to take any opportunity to re-start their evil and dangerous trade.
“Just in recent weeks the Australian Border and Defence Forces have successfully prevented two smuggling ventures on the seas to Australia’s north-west.
“Our intelligence tells us there are 14,000 people positioned in Indonesia alone who are prepared to hop on boats and attempt to travel illegally to Australia.
“Any potential passenger should hear our message loud and clear – boats attempting to illegally enter Australia will be turned back and no-one coming illegally by boat will ever settle in Australia.”
Mr Dutton said the ABF and ADF have recently significantly reinforced deterrence measures with the ADF vessel OceanProtectorjoining the ABF’s OceanShieldand an increased presence of other response vessels across the approaches to Australia while aerial surveillance had also been intensified.
He said the other benefit of stopping the boats was a halt to new illegal arrivals being placed in detention and a reduction in numbers of those already in detention.
“Under Labor the number of IMAs in detention peaked at more than 10,000. Today there are fewer than 700 IMAs in detention.
“Importantly the number of children in detention has gone from almost 2,000 under Labor to just 29 today and I am working to have no children in detention as soon as possible.
“IMAs formed more than 90 per cent of the detention population under Labor now they are less than 50 per cent.
“The majority of people in detention now are the visa overstayers, the bikies and the criminals who are foreigners we are removing from Australia to make our communities safer.
“These are significant outcomes, dramatic changes from the chaos of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era,” Mr Dutton said.