Peter Dutton has defended releasing details of another asylum-seeker boat arrival, as his government faces intense pressure over a Tamil family facing deportation.
The home affairs minister has long been reluctant to comment about “on-water matters” regarding asylum-seeker vessels.
Like clockwork, there’s stories splashed on the front pages of tomorrow’s newspapers about another maritime venture attempting to make its way to Australia.
It’s almost too convenient for @PeterDutton_MP…
Let’s look at the facts about boats, borders and Mr Dutton. A thread. pic.twitter.com/SgFPwFHdeY
— Kristina Keneally (@KKeneally) September 1, 2019
But confronted with a campaign to let a Tamil family stay in Australia, the government has released new information about an apparent surge in boat arrivals from Sri Lanka.
The latest vessel was intercepted west of Christmas Island on August 7, with 13 suspected asylum seekers flown back to the south Asian country on August 18.
It was the sixth attempted venture since May.
Mr Dutton denied the information was released at this particular time in order to help make a political point.
“We have provided a lot of detail since I’ve been minister at different points,” he told the Nine Network on Monday.
“I think we have publicly made available information in relation to every venture – we’ll continue to provide that information.
“We need to remind ourselves this is significant. People smugglers are watching everything that happens in Australia. I’m determined that we don’t have any death at sea.”
He said the threat out of Sri Lanka was concerning.
“It is the reason Sri Lanka was the first country I visited after the election, to make sure we can keep these boats stopped. This threat is very real,” Mr Dutton told the Courier-Mail.
— The Courier-Mail (@couriermail) September 1, 2019
“Labor wants people to believe that the threat of new boat arrivals is not real. It is. We are dealing with it every day.”
News of last month’s asylum seeker boat comes as a Tamil family being held on Christmas Island are waiting to find out if a court will allow them to stay in Australia.
An interim injunction blocking the deportation of Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their Australian-born children Kopika, 4, and Tharunicaa, 2, has been extended until Wednesday.