Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed an unauthorised vessel from Sri Lanka has been intercepted on its way to Australia.
The Australian Border Force said the vessel was attempting to illegally enter Australia from Sri Lanka.
The prime minister confirmed the interception earlier today after he voted in his Sydney electorate of Cook.
“I can confirm that there’s been an interception of a vessel en route to Australia,” Morrison said.
“That vessel has been intercepted in accordance with the policies of government and they’re following those normal protocols.
“In the interests of full transparency in the middle of an election campaign, the Labor Party was advised of this and a statement has been issued by the border protection authorities.”
The incident triggered a text spruiking the Liberal Party’s tough border policies that was sent to voters in NSW and Victoria.
It was sent out from the LiberalNSW about the boat interception, saying: “BREAKING- Aust Border Force has intercepted an illegal boat trying to reach Aus”.
Labor home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally noted the party supported the federal government’s border security operation and boat turn-backs.
“Labor supports Operation Sovereign Borders – offshore processing, regional resettlement, and boat turn-backs where safe to do so,” she said.
“The people smuggling trade is vile and risks the lives of the people at sea.”
“To be clear – If you attempt to come to Australia by boat you will not make it and you will be turned around, or sent to Nauru.
“Labor thanks the Operation Sovereign Borders Joint Agency Task Force for their continued work at keeping our borders secure.”
The Australian Border Force’s Operation Sovereign Borders Commander Rear Admiral Justin Jones said that the vessel was intercepted “in a likely attempt to illegally enter Australia from Sri Lanka”.
“The Australian government’s policy remains unchanged,” he said.
“We will intercept any vessel seeking to reach Australia illegally and to safely return those on board to their point of departure or country of origin.
“Measures and safeguards are in place to enable actions and activities to be undertaken in accordance with Australian domestic law and Australia’s obligations under international law.
“The overriding priority for all agencies involved in Operation Sovereign Borders is the safety of all persons involved, including potential illegal immigrants and vessel crews as well as Australian personnel.”
A statement by the Sri Lanka Navy said it had “managed to apprehend 40 individuals who attempted to illegally migrate to a foreign country by sea”.