September 22, 2013
An asylum seeker boat carrying about 30 people has arrived at Christmas Island, the first since the new Federal Government implemented its border protection policy.
The Government is not providing any details of the boat, but the ABC has been told from people on Christmas Island that the passengers include men, women and children from the Middle East.
It is the first known boat arrival since the Government was sworn in last week and its new policy, dubbed Operation Sovereign Borders, took effect.
Since then, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has imposed new restrictions on the flow of information about asylum seeker boats.
The previous government used to alert the media every time a boat was intercepted, but Mr Morrison says he will only provide weekly briefings – the first of which will be tomorrow.
Labor has attacked the changes, warning of a “culture of secrecy”.
In a statement released before today’s arrival, Mr Morrison said information would be provided in a way that supported the objectives of “the operation to stop the boats”.
“Briefings on Operation Sovereign Borders will be initially held weekly with any changes based on operational considerations to be advised,” Mr Morrison said in the statement.
“Additional briefings will be undertaken as necessary in relation to specific events. People smugglers use information as a tactic to ply their trade.
“Taking control of how that information is released denies people smugglers the opportunity to exploit such information and is just another one of the many measures we are utilising to stop the boats as the Government has promised it would do.”
Mr Morrison added the Government would release detention and bridging visa statistics.
“I have instructed the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to ensure these statistics are updated monthly, with a current report to be provided at the first Operation Sovereign Borders briefing,” he said.
Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten has ridiculed the move.
“They said they would stop the boats, then they said they would buy the boats, and now they’re saying they’re going to hide the boats,” he said.