(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Australia today warned that its policy on illegal asylum seekers remains tough as ever and Sri Lankans looking to reach Australia by boat will have “zero chance” of being accepted.
Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told reporters in Colombo that following the recent elections in Australia the policy against people smuggling has not changed.
Peter Dutton was speaking to reporters after launching the Australian Government’s new campaign to save lives at sea – Zero Chance.
Dutton said that a boat carrying Sri Lankans had been intercepted recently and the Sri Lankans had been deported.
There were reports that more boats were believed to be heading to Australia but the Australian Minister refused to comment on those reports.
Meanwhile, the Commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Major-General Craig Furini, said that the Zero Chance campaign is a critical component of Operation Sovereign Borders that warns Sri Lankans and other people across the region of the criminal nature of people smuggling and protects Australia’s borders.
Through this campaign the Australian Government will continue to raise awareness of the dangers, consequences and utter pointlessness of attempting an illegal boat voyage to Australia.
Australia remains committed to protecting its borders, stamping out people smuggling, and preventing people from risking their lives at sea.
On 29 May, 20 people were returned to Sri Lanka from a failed attempt at a dangerous maritime people smuggling venture targeting Australia.
This follows the Sri Lankan Navy rescue of 41 people from a vessel in distress in the Indian Ocean, crime of maritime people smuggling, both before and after boats actually take to the water.
The relationship with Sri Lanka is one of Australia’s most important partnerships in combatting people smuggling in the region, and it continues to strengthen.
Operation Sovereign Borders is a military-led border security operation. Since its implementation in 2013, Australia has returned 847 people from 35 people smuggling ventures to their country of origin or departure.