Twirling towards freedom

Operation Sovereign Borders Briefing – A Christmas Island Special

Operation Sovereign Borders press conference, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Dec 6, 2013

Thank you for attending this briefing. Some of your colleagues will no doubt complain that half an hour isn’t enough notice, but your presence, David, demonstrates they just weren’t trying hard enough.

Before you ask, I can neither confirm nor deny reports about the boat that has arrived here on Christmas Island.

As you heard the general say, and I’m sure everyone understands, we cannot disclose any operational details. What I will say is there was an on-water/off-water incident, which therefore cannot be discussed.

Despite our best efforts to maintain the secrecy of Operation Sovereign Borders, some details from residents here on Christmas Island have emerged about an on-island incident. This is somewhat unprecedented, but as we have already told you that there has been a hostile invasion, that is all we will say until the situation is under control.

Now, earlier this year when we divulged plans for Nauru’s tent city, some in the media complained when my office pointed you in the direction of the News Corporation reports.

Again, this week, Fairfax complained that my office did not confirm reports by email, or phone, or text message on the new cap on temporary protection visas.

We have listened to those complaints, and we are steadfast in our resolve not to address them as we see fit. 

Knowledge is power for people smugglers, and we refuse – we refuse – to provide operational assistance to the enemies of Australia by ‘talking’ to the ‘media’. But we are happy to provide these weekly briefings, and I’m sure you would have seen my interview on ABC 7.30.

In keeping information out of the hands of the cartels and sinister organisations that threaten our fragile democracy – and the Australian way of life ­– we send a clear and powerful message. We are not afraid.

It was a different story when we were in opposition but the paradigm has changed. If you’re legal, Australia is now open for business. But if you come by boat, your boat has already and will always be stopped. Any further questions, please refer to your six point pamphlet.

A final point. The Labor Party and the Greens worked together this week to block the reintroduction of temporary protection visas.

The Assistant Minister for Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash said it very well when she pointed out that if Labor supported the disallowance motion it proved they stood for no more than “promulgating the people smugglers’ business model.”

What the Labor Party and the Greens are doing is bizarre and outrageous. The Labor Party and the Greens want to protect the very thing that people smugglers are trading in: illegals. We are doing our utmost to smash the currency of people traders. Make no bones about that. We will use every policy lever in our possession to ensure that no illegal arrivals will be permanently protected. We took that to the Australian people at the last election, and we will honour our commitment.

The Greens have said that “the government's cruelty should not harm the hearts of people who had suffered so much already” but what about the hearts of the Australian people? A people who have suffered the loss of jobs, of security and of peace of mind, at a time of year when we should all be celebrating with our families.

Is that fair? I don’t think so.

Any questions? We’ve already heard from you, David.

Michaela McGuire

Michaela McGuire is a journalist and the author of Last Bets: A True Story of Gambling, Morality and the Law and the Penguin Special A Story of Grief. Visit her blog, Twirling Towards Freedom.


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