What we know about a boat arrival of asylum seekers in Western Australia

A boat that arrived in Western Australia on Friday has sparked a new political furore between Anthony Albanese and Peter Dutton.
Western Australia boat

Around 40 asylum seekers who arrived by boat in Western Australia’s Kimberley region have been taken to an offshore immigration detention centre.

Some of the group arrived in Beagle Bay, a remote town with predominantly First Nations residents, on Friday.

Several others were found in a nearby WA community a short time later.

It’s believed the group are seeking asylum in Australia from Pakistan and Bangladesh.

They have since been taken to an offshore processing facility in Nauru, a small island country in the Pacific.

Border operation

Since 2013, the Australian Border Force (ABF), the Australian Federal Police and the military have run ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’.

It involves daily patrols of Australian borders to prevent asylum seekers from arriving by boat and settling in Australia.

According to the Department of Home Affairs: “Anyone who attempts an unauthorised boat voyage to Australia will be turned back to their point of departure, returned to their home country, or transferred to a third country for processing.”

Western Australia boat

The ABF confirmed that an operation took place in northwest WA on Friday, but it hasn’t provided any further details on the matter.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had been briefed on the asylum seeker arrivals, and that the ABF had “resolved” the issue.

“If you arrive here by boat, you will not be settled here… We have appropriate measures in place, and we have an appropriate response in place. And that’s been demonstrated by the events this weekend,“ he said.


Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the boat’s arrival showed a “catastrophic failure” of Australia’s border policy.

Dutton said people smugglers “react to a weak Prime Minister… If they see vulnerabilities, they will exploit them, and that’s exactly what has happened here.”

Albanese dismissed Dutton’s comments, accusing him of an “overreach” on the issue.

ABF response

Operation Sovereign Borders Commander Brett Sonter said the ABF’s mission was to protect Australia’s borders, combat people smuggling and prevent dangerous border crossings by sea.

He said that “any alternate narrative will be exploited by criminal people smugglers to deceive potential irregular immigrants and convince them to risk their lives and travel to Australia by boat”.

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