Immigration and Border Protection

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February 26, 2019

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has confirmed they pulled the Cape Class fleet from patrolling our borders late last year to save money on fuel – confirming the cuts and chaos of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government put Australia’s national security at risk.

In December, Peter Dutton tried to deny these cuts ever took place.

There has been no budget cut, there will be no reduced presence on the water, we have been very clear about that.”

Peter Dutton, press conference, 12 December 2018

However in a letter to the Senate standing committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, ABF Commissioner Michael Outram has admitted, “there was a brief period between 3 and 11 December 2018 where ABF vessels adopted a more risk based approach.”

The head of the ABF was correcting evidence he gave to Senate Estimates just last week where he denied reports that “operational limitations” had been imposed on the ABF’s fleet to achieve a fuel saving.

Mr Outram: I do recall an article that suggested that we were proposing to withdraw ABF vessels from operations. My point was that that's not accurate… that, though, was a proposal that was not implemented.

Senator KITCHING: Can you guarantee that no ABF Cape class vessel stopped active patrolling to save money on fuel?

Mr Outram: Yes. That did not happen.

Senator KITCHING: So who is responsible for reducing patrols? Was the government was aware of any changes—

Mr Pezzullo: I think the commissioner said that that wasn't proceeded with—

Mr Outram: It wasn't proceeded with and it wasn't a reduction in patrols; it was a change to the way that we patrol

Senator KITCHING: Okay, so you made a change to the—

Mr Outram: We didn't make a change, it was a proposal.

Senator KITCHING: You didn't make a change? Nothing happened?

Mr Outram: Nothing happened.

Senator KITCHING: There was no change at all.

Mr Outram: There was no change. It was a proposal to see if we could save money on fuel from patrolling differently.

Senate Estimates, Monday 18 February 2019

It is clear – Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton chose to put Australia’s border security at risk with their savage cuts.

The Liberals tried to sweep their cuts and chaos under the rug. If the Morrison Government hadn’t been caught out, how far would have Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton been willing to go?

Peter Dutton has an ever growing list of failures he needs to come clean over – from handing over a $423 million contract to a company run out of a beach shack to these vicious cuts to the ABF.

Under Labor, Operation Sovereign Borders will be fully resourced – we will maintain Australia’s strong border protection measures and strengthen them even further with new measures to stop people smugglers in their tracks.

Unlike the Liberals, we’ll make sure there is enough fuel for the Australian Border Force fleet to protect our borders.

Scott Morrison uses every opportunity to spread baseless lies about Labor’s strong position on border protection when he is the one who has undermined Australia’s border protection and national security.