The Australian Border Force (ABF) were set to check visas in Melbourne’s CBD this weekend.
The Federal Government dubbed the move an ‘inter-agency law enforcement drive’ in a bid to target visa fraud and the locals did not react well.
A quickly organised protest took place at Flinders Street Station on Friday afternoon and further demonstrations were likely before Victoria Police announced the operation had been scrapped.
So, what is the force, and what powers do they hold?
What is the ABF?
The ABF — which merged the frontline functions of Customs and Immigration — was launched on July 1, 2015 and was touted as Australia’s “trusted global gateway”.
The agency is responsible for immigration security at Australia’s air and sea ports and also patrols Australia’s waterways, with Operation Sovereign Borders falling under its control.
According to the ABF’s website, the service and enforcement function of the agency includes facilitating the lawful passage of people and goods, investigations, compliance and enforcement in relation to illicit goods and immigration malpractice and onshore detention, removals and support to regional processing arrangements.
What powers does the ABF hold?
ABF officers have substantially greater powers than either Customs or Immigration officials. They carry guns, gather intelligence and have the power to detain offenders.
Who is in charge of the ABF?
Roman Quaedvlieg is the ABF commissioner.
Mr Quaedvlieg was formerly chief of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, a role he started in October 2014.
The commissioner directly reports to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.