The newly-formed Australian Border Force cancels Operation Fortitude just hours after its announcement as protesters took to the streets to show their outrage.
Operation Fortitude was supposed to be a means to clamp down visa fraud and antisocial behavior as ABF officers, with the help of the police force, planned to roam the streets of the Melbourne Central Business District and interview people at random.
According to the media release, people need to be aware of the conditions of their visa. A warning was also given out to those committing visa fraud, with the media release stating that it was only a matter of time before offenders are caught.
Media release was poorly written, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton says
Prime Minister Tony Abbott had told reporters that he wouldn’t know who cleared the media release. Hours later, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stepped in and told the press that his office had, in fact, received a copy of the statement.
However, the document was not reviewed nor read because it was regarded as ‘routine’. Dutton had not been informed about it.
Dutton cleared the ABF’s intentions and said that there was never any plan of conducting random visa checks while Operation Fortitude was ongoing.
The Prime Minister called the media release as ‘over the top and wrong’, and went on to assure the people that as far as his government was concerned, nobody will ever be randomly approached on the streets and be asked for their visa details. “That’s the sort of thing that will never happen to this country,” he says.
Investigation sought for after ABF Operation Fortitude cancelled
The opposition took no time to take action and immediately requested for an investigation on the training given to the ABF. Opposition Immigration spokesman Richard Marles has also written to Auditor-General Grant Hehir, saying that his main concern is the lack of understanding as to what the extent of the ABF officers’ legal powers really is.
The incident over the weekend, according to Mr. Marles, had caused significant community anxiety. This, he believes, should be reason enough for a thorough investigation to be done.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has admitted to receiving several text messages from multicultural community leaders who were distressed by the possibility of racial profiling should Operation Fortitude be enacted over the weekend.
“You saw a very Victorian response as people literally took to the streets to protest against something that was ill-conceived and not something supported by my government, the Victoria Police, and the Victorian community,” Mr Andrews said.
Special thanks to The Sydney Morning Herald for the main image.