Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) is the Coalition Government’s policy on asylum seekers arriving by boat.
Launched on 18 September 2013, OSB is a military-led policy that considers border protection a ‘national emergency’ (p. 2) and has a mandate to stop the entry of Suspected Irregular Entry Vessels (SIEVs) into Australian territory (p. 10). It targets asylum seekers arriving by boat and aims to ‘prevent their entry … [and] ensure that they are not settled in Australia’.
OSB recalls former Prime Minister John Howard’s declaration that ‘we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come’ as a statement of national sovereignty to control Australia’s borders (p. 4).
OSB involves 16 government agencies dealing with asylum seeker boat arrivals and is headed by Deputy Chief of Army, Angus Campbell, who reports to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. OSB is overseen by the National Security Committee of Cabinet (the NSC).
Implementation of OSB includes turning asylum seeker boats back to source and transit countries where it is safe to do so (p. 5), increasing capacity at offshore processing centres (p 15), and reintroducing Temporary Protection Visas (p. 15).
The ABC keeps a log of boat arrivals and other asylum seeker incidents since OSB was initiated.
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Last updated 20 October 2014
ABC, Operation Sovereign Borders: the first six months, 26 March 2014
Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Interview Transcript: Operation Sovereign Borders, 28 July 2014
SBS, Factbox: Operation Sovereign Borders, 19 September 2013
The Guardian, Operation Sovereign Borders timeline: every encounter, 1 July 2014