Unsolicited texts about an “illegal boat” from Sri Lanka intercepted by Australian Border Force attempting to enter Australia have been sent to voters all over the shop with a link to a Liberal-endorsed website, vote.liberal.org.au.

The text was framed as a news update and began with the word “BREAKING”. It continued: “Aust border force has has intercepted an illegal boat trying to reach Aus. Keep borders secure by voting Liberal today.”

Scott Morrison confirmed the interception about 1:30pm and quickly turned the conversation to strong borders.

“I can confirm that there’s been an interception of a vessel en route to Australia. That vessel has been intercepted in accordance with the policies of government and they’re following those normal protocols and I can simply say this,” he said.

“I’ve been here to stop this boat but in order for me to be there to stop those that may come from here, you need to vote Liberal and Nationals today. In the interests of full transparency in the middle of an election campaign, the Labor Party was advised of this and a statement has been issued by the border protection authorities.”

Defence Minister Peter Dutton also tweeted the news with a similar election plug.

Home affairs minister Karen Andrews said at another press conference about 4:30pm there were two illegal boats, one intercepted by the Sri Lankan navy and the second intercepted by border force “near Christmas Island”.

The texts have been called out as a desperate eleventh-hour vote grab because it knows fear-mongering over asylum seekers has worked for it in previous elections. But more serious allegations have been made by political journalist Karen Middleton, who said on ABC News earlier today a source told her the boat was a stunt.

Middleton said she was contacted by a member of the Sri Lankan-Australian community on April 26 who said two boats would be picked up by the Sri Lankan government on May 21 in an alleged stunt orchestrated by both countries’ governments. Middleton said all the information was unverified.

The timing is suss AF but whether the actual boat was a stunt or not the texts are unprecedented, confusing and fucking creepy. But sadly they’re allowed.

The Australian Electoral Commission responded to complaints online about the texts and said these kinds of messages were permitted during an election campaign.

Stay tuned, there will no doubt be a lot more talk about this in the coming days.