All 17 Vietnamese people who bypassed Border Force operations to make landfall in far north Queensland have been sent back to their country of origin, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said in a statement.
“The arrival of a people smuggling boat from Vietnam in late August is a reminder that the threat of people smuggling hasn’t gone away.
“All 17 of the individuals who arrived on this venture have been returned to Vietnam.
“Under Labor’s policy it would have been impossible to send these people back to their country of origin. It would have been a green light and other boats would surely have followed.
“This should be a wakeup call that Labor can never manage our borders effectively,” Mr Dutton said.
The recent arrival blamed for a failure of surveillance was the first asylum seeker boat reaching Australia in more than four years.
According to the statement, Australia’s maritime surveillance and response capabilities have been reinforced with expanded aerial surveillance and on-water patrols.
Assets from the Australian Border Force and additional resources from the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force have been mobilised to identify and intercept any suspicious vessel that approaches Australia’s borders.
Mr Dutton said the measures would further secure all maritime approaches to Australia.
Australia has previously reached agreement with Hanoi for the swift return of Vietnamese nationals found in Australian waters.
Since Operation Sovereign Border was stood up in 2013, it has been incredibly successful in detecting, intercepting and deterring people smuggling ventures.
Thirty three vessels have been intercepted at sea, 827 people returned to their country of departure or origin and countless others deterred or prevented from risking their lives on an illegal boat journey to Australia.
While this people smuggling venture failed, people smugglers are nevertheless likely to use the arrival of this group on Australian soil as a marketing tool to persuade others to attempt an illegal boat journey to Australia.
“To reinforce the security of our borders, Australia’s offshore people smuggling disruption efforts, led by the Australian Federal Police, have also been strengthened,.
All these actions should send a strong message to people smugglers and those who would engage their services: the Australian Government’s determination to protect our borders, combat people smuggling and prevent deaths at sea, is stronger than ever.
The Australian Government will not tolerate a return to past circumstances under which more than 1200 people died at sea attempting illegal journeys to Australia on unseaworthy
Australia’s border protection policy is clear – and this reinforcement of Operation Sovereign Borders shows – Australia will back up its words with decisive actions.”