The West

Asylum  boats to test borders
Immigration Minister predicts border protection will be tested in coming months. Picture: Alana-Jayne Moore

The Federal Government has boasted it has gone 100 days without an asylum vessel making a successful voyage to Australia.

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison predicts his hardline border protection regime will be tested in coming months as the northern monsoon season clears and people smugglers send more boats.

It is can also be revealed an asylum seeker vessel attempted to sail to Australia this week but was intercepted and turned back by Indonesian authorities.

Speaking to _The Weekend West _, Mr Morrison said the Government's Operation Sovereign Borders would now enter its "third phase" as Navy and Customs officials braced for the coming of better weather in the north.

"We will be significantly tested," he said. "We are very ready for it but we are not complacent."

Mr Morrison said the benchmark of 100 days of no successful boat voyages should be acknowledged as a sign the Government's policies were working.

"I think many people thought the 100 days benchmark would never be seen again," Mr Morrison said.

He said West Australians going to the polls at next week's Senate election should be mindful Labor was opposed to key parts of Operation Sovereign Borders.

Labor has criticised the Government's policy of turning asylum vessels back to Indonesia and has voted against the re- instatement of Temporary Protection Visas.

Although the Government has claimed there have been no successful people-smuggling ventures to Australia in 100 days, there have been at least five instances where asylum seekers have been forced back to Indonesia on lifeboats.

"There is a very clear understanding now right up through the chain that not only will you not be settled in Australia, you will not get here," Mr Morrison said.

It is believed an asylum vessel was intercepted leaving Java this week. However, there are fears Indonesian officials may have released the passengers, meaning they could make another attempt to get to Australia soon.

Mr Morrison will be in Perth this week along with the rest of the Federal Cabinet ahead of the Senate vote.

He is expected to announce new border protection measures as part of his visit.

We are very ready for it but we are not complacent. " Scott Morrison

The West Australian

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