One year on, 12 boats 'turned back at sea'

IMMIGRATION Minister Scott Morrison seems to have ignored his own edict not to reveal "operational details" of his asylum seeker program, on the one-year political anniversary of "Operation Sovereign Borders".

After reports appeared in News Ltd papers on Thursday morning, Mr Morrison released a statement confirming 12 boats carrying 383 asylum seekers were "turned back at sea".

"The first safe turnback occurred on 19 December 2013 and the most recent on 20 May this year. Four of the turnbacks involved the use of lifeboats," the statement reads.

The statement also said there were 23 "ventures" carrying 1265 people since he began the operation last September, and "all but one" arrived before the government started turning back boats in December last year.

But in releasing the details, Mr Morrison did not explain why both he and senior departmental bureaucrats could not release such information to either the media or during heated Senate estimates hearings earlier this year.

The secrecy surrounding the operations has been a point of contention, with human rights lawyers and asylum seeker advocates questioning why the government was refusing to release such information.

While he said the government's policies had resulted in no reported deaths at sea, and a 40% fall in "children held in detention", Mr Morrison did not explain the change in communications policies allowing the information's release.

- APN NEWSDESK


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