First boat arrives as Government says it will hold weekly asylum seeker boat briefings with media

22 September 2013

An asylum seeker boat has been intercepted near Christmas Island, the first known arrival since the new Federal Government was sworn in last week.

It is unknown how many people are on board but it is understood HMAS Maitland was involved.

The Government has introduced a policy of not constantly releasing details of asylum seeker boats and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the Government will brief journalists on a weekly basis.

A spokesman for Mr Morrison would not comment on the arrival and said the Government's first weekly briefing would be held tomorrow.

The Government has told the Immigration Department to refer any media inquiries back to the minister's office.

Labor has attacked the changes, warning of a "culture of secrecy".

In tomorrow's media conference Mr Morrison will explain further details of the Government's policy, dubbed Operation Sovereign Borders.

In a statement released before today's arrival, the minister said information would be provided in a way that supported the objectives of "the operation to stop the boats".

"Briefings on Operation Sovereign Borders will be initially held weekly with any changes based on operational considerations to be advised," Mr Morrison said in the statement.

"Additional briefings will be undertaken as necessary in relation to specific events. People smugglers use information as a tactic to ply their trade.

"Taking control of how that information is released denies people smugglers the opportunity to exploit such information and is just another one of the many measures we are utilising to stop the boats as the Government has promised it would do."

Mr Morrison added the Government would release detention and bridging visa statistics.

"I have instructed the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to ensure these statistics are updated monthly, with a current report to be provided at the first Operation Sovereign Borders briefing," he said.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten has ridiculed the move.

"They said they would stop the boats, then they said they would buy the boats, and now they're saying they're going to hide the boats," he said.


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