Media Release |
SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON
Minister for Justice and Customs
Senator for Western Australia
E24/04 5 March 2004
Tough border protection strategy working
to detect unauthorised arrivals
Yesterday's detection by the Australian Customs Service of the unauthorised arrival of 15 people at Ashmore Islands proves that the Government's tough border protection strategies are working, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today.
"Customs has maintained a permanent operational presence at the islands since 1999 using its fleet of patrol boats, and it was one of these vessels, the Dame Roma Mitchell, which detected the unauthorised arrivals," Senator Ellison said.
"Customs conducts regular patrols of the islands and surrounding Australian waters," he said.
"There is always a vessel on duty in this high-traffic area, and that's why we were able to find these people so quickly."
Ashmore Islands lie approximately 320 kilometres off our north west coast, but only 144 kilometres south of the Indonesian island of Roti.
"Under an agreement between Australia and Indonesia, traditional fishing is permitted by Indonesian fishers and consequently, there are a large number of fishing boats operating legally which have to be constantly checked.
"This vast area is a challenge to patrol, but this detection proves that we are successfully protecting Australia's borders," Senator Ellison said.
Interviews by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMIA) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with the 15 unauthorised arrivals are continuing.
Media Inquiries: Simon Troeth (02) 6277 7260/(0439) 300 335