Australian maritime authorities intercepted an illegal asylum seeker boat last month and forced it to immediately return to its port of departure in Indonesia.
It is the 38th people-smuggling turnback since Operation Sovereign Borders began in 2013 under the current conservative coalition government.
All eight people on board, who were Chinese and Indonesian nationals, were returned to Indonesia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the interception and turnback reiterates Australia’s commitment to ending people smuggling and stop people risking their lives at sea.
“We will not tolerate a return to past circumstances where more than 1,200 people died at sea attempting illegal and dangerous journeys to Australia,” Dutton said.
“Illegal maritime travel to Australia is as pointless as it is dangerous. There is zero chance of illegal migration to Australia.”
We will not tolerate a return to past circumstances where more than 1,200 people died at sea attempting illegal and dangerous journeys to Australia.
Illegal maritime travel to Australia is as pointless as it is dangerous. There is zero chance of illegal migration to Australia.
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) March 2, 2020
Australia has now returned 873 people from 38 people smuggling ventures to their country of origin or departure since 2013, maintaining amongst the toughest border controls in the world.
The forced returns are built on Operation Sovereign Borders, introduced by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2013, which sees smuggler-boats intercepted at sea and migrants either returned to where they came from or taken to offshore processing centres.
As Breitbart News reported, in 2017 Australia announced plans to tighten its citizenship rules to require higher English language skills, longer residency and evidence of integration through consistent employment.
It is also making migrants wait longer before they can access any government benefits or assistance after arrival while securing the country’s borders.
The United Nations and aid groups have consistently slammed Canberra’s tough policy of engagement with illegal arrivals.
Dutton has defended the appraoch as a deterrent against people-smugglers saying Australia will only give refuge to those seeking asylum through legitimate channels.