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Operation Sovereign Borders

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A Coalition government will establish a military-led response to combat people smuggling and to protect our borders - Operation Sovereign Borders.

There is a national emergency on our borders.

The facts speak for themselves. Since Kevin Rudd dismantled the Coalition’s border protection policies in 2008:

 More than 1,000 people have perished at sea;  Over 48,000 people have arrived on almost 800 illegal boats;  More than 23,000 illegal arrivals are currently in the immigration detention network or on bridging visas;

 More than 6,000 children have had their lives put at risk by travelling on illegal boats; and  Over $10.3 billion has been lost in border protection Budget blowouts.

Under Labor, there are more than 12 separate government agencies that have involvement in, or responsibility for, the security of our borders, yet the boats still keep coming and too much is falling between the cracks. A Coalition government will streamline decision making into a single command structure with participation from all related agencies.

In addition to the Coalition’s already announced policies to restore policies which stopped the boats before, we also recognise that we have to strengthen the organisation and operational capacity of the Australian government to respond to this emergency.

If elected, a Coalition Government will initiate Operation Sovereign Borders which will be led by a senior military commander of 3 star ranking.

We will ask the Chief of the Defence Force to recommend the appointment of the 3 Star commander, as well as a command and control model for this major operation.

The commander will report directly to the Minister for Immigration, who will have portfolio responsibility for Operation Sovereign Borders.

Operation Sovereign Borders will be directed by a Joint Agency Taskforce involving all agencies with direct involvement in border security.

In the first 100 days of a Coalition government, Operation Sovereign Borders will undertake key initiatives including:


 Establishing the Operation Sovereign Borders HQ and creating the joint agency taskforce;  Finalising and issuing protocols for Operation Relex II, to turn back boats where it is safe to do so;  Increasing capacity at offshore processing centres; and  Lease and deploy additional vessels to relieve patrol vessels of passenger transfers.

A Coalition government will end the chaos and dysfunction that has characterised our border security under the Rudd-Gillard Government.

We will respond with the urgency that this national emergency requires. The current multiplicity of agencies and reporting lines provides for conflicting strategies, disconnected systems, fractured accountability, inadequate information system, duplication, higher costs and turf wars.

There must be one person responsible with all the necessary resources of government at his or her command.

The scale of this problem requires the discipline and focus of a targeted military operation, placed under a single operational and Ministerial command and drawing together all the necessary resources and deployments of Government agencies.

Operation Sovereign Borders is another part of the Coalition’s policy for stronger borders which will deliver the safe, secure Australia that all Australians expect.

25 July 2013