More controversy for the Abbott Governmment’s new ‘silence policy’ on refugee boat arrivals.

Critics say the policy will damage our relationship with Indonesia and endanger the lives of navy and customs personnel.

Claims denied by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on her first overseas visit.

Imogen Baker reports.


Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is wasting no time, scheduling 35 meetings in 5 days in New York.

She’s dismissed concerns the Government’s change of policy on boat arrivals will affect dealings with one of our closest neighbours.

Julie Bishop, Foreign Minister: “Our relationship with Indonesia is much broader than the one issue of border protection.”

The Immigration Minister says limiting information is intended to starve people-smugglers of tactical details.

Scott Ryan, Immigration Minister: “We don’t want to give them free advertising, we don’t want to tell them where we’re acting, we don’t want to tell them exactly how we’re acting.”

Labor says the policy of silence around boat arrivals is designed to protect the government, not the people of Australia.

Matt Thistlethwaith, Labor MP: “The reason why they are censoring the information to the public is because they know it won’t work.”

Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens Senator: “These are not just refugees lives at risk here these are the lives of our Navy and customs personnel as well.”

The Greens will move in the Senate to try to “force” the government to reveal information on arrivals.

The government says it won’t disclose whether boats have been turned back and will give only weekly briefings on how many boats are arriving.

Imogen Baker, QUT News.