The new federal government launched an investigation into whether the then prime minister’s office requested a statement from the Border Force on a ship of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, which was followed by an election day text from the Liberal Party.
Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles confirmed this afternoon that the Home Secretary has been asked to look into the matter.
The message, sent to thousands of voters on the evening of May 21, read: “BREAKING: Aust Border Force has intercepted an illegal boat trying to reach Aus. Keep our borders secure by voting Liberal today” with a link to party website.
Following earlier reports the statement was requested by Scott Morrison’s office, Marles accused the coalition government of politicizing national security and said the reports, if true, “represent the last desperate acts of a dying government.”
“The previous government sought to inject politics into a national security issue. This is an issue that should have been above politics,” the deputy prime minister said.
“This is an issue where, really, when it comes to border security, there was a national consensus, which this administration sought to undermine and sought to create division where none existed and sought to make this a policy issue and this is really serious.
“It is serious in the sense that it made our borders less secure. It is serious in the sense that it risked lives, it risked lives and it undermined the national consensus that exists around border security.”
The statement about the ship was a departure from the previous government’s refusal to comment on “matters on the water”, a protocol introduced when Morrison was immigration minister.