The Australian Government today marks three years since the commencement of Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) which has successfully disrupted the criminal activities of people smugglers and stopped people dying at sea.
In the five years before OSB, Australia saw more than 50,000 people arrive on more than 800 boats and tragically more than 1200 people died at sea – the real tragedy is likely to be significantly larger.
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, said Australia’s strong border protection policies have definitely saved lives.
“Since we commenced turnbacks under Operation Sovereign Borders, there have been no known deaths at sea,” Mr Dutton said.
“We remain committed to protecting Australia’s borders, stamping out people smuggling, and preventing people risking their lives.
“People smugglers will not succeed in getting their boats to Australia.
“Stopping the boats has also enabled the Government to remove all children from detention. More than 8000 children were placed in detention under the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Governments with a peak number of almost 2000 in 2013. The Coalition has reduced that to zero.
“We’ve also been able to close 17 detention centres and return significant savings to the Budget.
“I’d like to acknowledge the efforts of everyone involved in the implementation of this whole-of-government policy.
“However, while we have been successful so far, we need to remain vigilant because there are more than 14,000 people in Indonesia who would board a boat to Australia tomorrow if our border protection policies were weakened.
“Our message is tough but fair,” Mr Dutton said. “Settlement in Australia will never be an option for people who attempt to travel illegally by boat. There are no exceptions.
“Australia has a great migration story to tell and by ensuring our borders are secure we are able to preside over one of the most successful modern day migration programmes.”
“Our offshore Refugee and Humanitarian Programme in 2015-16 was the largest in more than 30 years,” Mr Dutton said.