Operation turns back 33 boats
OPERATION Sovereign Borders has prevented more than 3300 asylum-seekers coming to Australia by turning back 33 boats and successfully disrupting nearly 80 people-smuggling ventures in the past five years.
News Corp can reveal that since September 2013, at least 2525 people have been stopped from boarding boats to Australia because of co-operation with neighbouring countries which has led to the disruption of 78 people-smuggling operations.
In addition, 33 boats trying to ferry just over 800 asylumseekers to Australia were stopped or turned back.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told parliament that advice from the Operation Sovereign Borders agency heads was that the “threat of people-smuggling has certainly not gone away”.
His warning came amid growing pressure on the government to compromise on its proposed lifetime ban – which has been stalled for two years in the Senate – preventing all resettled refugees from ever entering Australia.
Labor immigration spokesman Shayne Neumann said Labor would support the lifetime ban, subject to key conditions, if the government agreed to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle children and their family members being held on Nauru.
Scott Morrison – the former immigration minister credited with stopping the boats – trashed Labor’s offer, warning it would create “perverse incentives” and undermine the US offer to take up to 1250 refugees.
“You don’t horse-trade on border protection. You don’t do it,” the Prime Minister said.
“You don’t get children off Nauru by putting more children on Nauru through weaker border protection policies.”
The Labor proposal, sent to Immigration Minister David Coleman on Monday night, would narrow the lifetime ban so it applied only to those refugees resettled in New Zealand who then attempted to move permanently to Australia. It would allow resettled refuges to enter Australia on tourist or temporary business visas.
Mr Neumann said the compromise would still be sufficient to close the potential for “backdoor” entry to Australia.
Speaking in parliament, Mr Dutton said the government was aware of people-smuggling ventures being planned in Indonesia and other nations.
“We’re worried about activity and intelligence coming out from certain parts of the region,” he said. “We’re seeing what’s happening in the Mediterranean, where already something like 2000 people have drowned at sea this year.”
News Corp has confirmed that in the past five years, 614 people-smuggling arrests have been made overseas as a result of the 78 disruptions. These include 489 arrests in Sri Lanka, 66 in Indonesia, 48 in Malaysia and five each in Pakistan and Thailand.
Three individuals were found guilty in Riau, Indonesia, in September and each was sentenced to five years’ jail.
The individuals were found to be the organisers behind a foiled venture in November 2017 to smuggle six Bangladeshi asylum-seekers to Australia as fake Rohingya refugees.