Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton
– Pic by Chamila Karunarathna
The visiting Australian Home Affairs Minister yesterday reiterated tough border security during the re-launch of their border control campaign in Sri Lanka yesterday amidst a sudden resurgence in irregular migration attempts by boat.
Minister Peter Dutton said that as per Australia’s Immigration Policy, the Government “will not allow people to arrive in Australia, following reports of four attempts to reach the country by boat”.
A boats carrying irregular migrants intended to Australia was intercepted by Sri Lankan Navy, with 40 people on board on 23 May and another boat was intercepted by the Australian Coast Guard near Cocos Island where 20 people on board were handed over to Sri Lankan authorities on 29 May.
The Minister noted that there had been “a lull” in irregular migration attempts with boats originating from Sri Lanka but noted that there had been “an uptick in activity in the last month or so which has caused this concern”.
Dutton however noted that the stance of his Government regarding immigration remained unchanged following re-election, stressing that people smugglers would not be allowed to resume their illegal rackets.
“Australia has just held a recent election and the Government has been re-elected. On that basis our policy in relation to the protection and security of our borders has not and will not change. We’ve been very clear and consistent in our message over a long period of time,” he said.
According to information provided by Australia, over 1,200 people have drowned while attempting to reach Australia by boat illegally. However, since the launch of Operation Sovereign Borders, the number of boats attempting to reach Australia has reduced.
The Commander of Operation Sovereign Borders Major General Craig Furini launched the new campaign prevented at preventing irregular migrants from attempting to reach Australia by sea, named ‘Zero Tolerance’.
Since implementation of Operation Sovereign Borders in 2013, the Australian Government has returned 847 people to their country of origin or departure, a statement issued by the Australian High Commission said.