Scott Morrison has asked Border Force to reveal the arrival of the asylum boat on Election Day

One of Scott Morrison’s last acts as Prime Minister was to ask the Australian Border Force (ABF) to publicize the interception of a suspected asylum seeker boat on election day.

As voters headed to the polls on Saturday, the commander of Operation Sovereign Borders released a rare statement announcing that a “vessel has been intercepted in a probable attempt to enter Australia illegally from Sri Lanka”.

The ABC can reveal that the highly controversial decision during the election transition period followed a direct request from the Prime Minister’s Office to publicly release details of the sensitive ABF operation before it was completed.

At his last press conference – held in the early afternoon of election day – the then prime minister was asked about reports released that morning of a boat arriving.

Around the same time the Prime Minister spoke, the statement by Rear Admiral Justin Jones, Commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, appeared on the ABF website, warning that Australian Government policy on illegal boat arrivals “remains unchanged”.

An image of the backs of two Border Force officers, their organization clearly indicated by signs on their backs
The Australian Border Force has since returned asylum seekers to Sri Lanka.(ABC: Avani Dias)

The unusual disclosure of dealings “on water matters” is now the subject of an investigation by Home Office Secretary Mike Pezzullo, ordered this week by the new Labor government.

Officials with knowledge of Saturday’s events said the Home Office first reviewed the legality of issuing a statement during an election campaign, fearing it would violate interim conventions and politicize the office. public.

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