Australian Politics

Government denies claim of secrecy on boat arrivals

The Solomon Islands says it has rejected a request from Australia to accept asylum seekers.

The federal government has rejected as "simply wrong" suggestions it will stop telling the public about asylum seeker boat arrivals.

Under the previous Labor government, Customs and Border Protections told the media every time a boat was intercepted in Australian waters.

That practice appears to have changed under the coalition government, with Customs now directing media inquiries to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office.

Labor says this shows the government is trying to hide information on boat arrivals from the Australian people.

"You can't have a situation where the problem is meant to be solved by secrecy," opposition immigration spokesman Tony Burke told Sky News on Saturday.

"That's not the way to deal with it."

Mr Morrison denied the government was trying to keep boat arrivals hidden.

"The suggestion that information will not be provided is simply wrong and a typical reaction from a Labor party hypersensitive to their own chronic failures on border protection," he said in a statement.

The government will in the coming days outline how it will treat the information "from an operational perspective", Mr Morrison said.

He argued the Abbott government was changing the previous government's "failed approaches" on border protection.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott formally launched his new military-led approach last week, appointing Deputy Chief of Army Angus Campbell to lead the operations.

The former SAS commander will report directly to Mr Morrison and coordinate the 16 departments and agencies that deal with the boats under what will be called Operation Sovereign Borders.

"How (boat arrival) information is provided and the timing of it is something the government will be managing in a way that best supports the success of Operation Sovereign Borders ... based on the extensive experience of the operational agencies and commanders that lead this effort," Mr Morrison said.

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