BUCKLE IN PALS, ’cause here we go again.

After the Immigration Department snaked their way out of the total fuckery disaster of Operation Fortitude in Melbourne last August, by blaming it on a “clumsily written press release” from junior Immigration Department/ Australian Border Force staff, it’s now come to light that – PLOT TWIST – this is utterly false.

Crikey obtained some 300 pages about the incident – including the original presser – via a freedom of information request, which show that Operation Fortitude was meant to be EXACTLY how the media / outraged citizens had interpreted it as: that the Australian Border Force were going to stop and search the people of Melbourne to see if they had visas.

The original press release, which was written by the ABF, contains two key questions-and-answers using much stronger language in the original that in the one sent out.

These are both attributed to ABF’s regional commander (and definitely NOT junior staffer) for Victoria and Tasmania Don Smith


What role will the ABF play in this operation?

ABF officers will be positioned at various locations within the Melbourne CBD speaking to individuals who we suspect may be in Australia illegally without a current and valid visa.

and:

How will the ABF decide which individuals to target?

We will be speaking with any individual we cross paths with.

Our officers employ a range of techniques to determine if we think someone is demonstrating traits which indicate there is a need to conduct a more in-depth assessment of their current visa status.


Tracking changes show Smith had a few issues with that last answer – possibly because he realised that ‘demonstrating traits’ could *so* easily be misinterpreted as racial profiling – and edited it to read:

We will be speaking with all individuals we come across as part of this operation.”

“Our officers employ a range of techniques to determine whether a more in-depth assessment of a person’s visa status is required.”


Emails show that Peter Dutton‘s office received the press release one day before it was sent out, and replied with a “Ok thanks for letting me know.” (Side note: gawd, can you actually imagining working for Dutton? *shudders*.)

~ CONVENIENTLY ~ these documents were handed over just after the Department of Immigration’s appearance at estimates ended. Thanks to this stroke of good luck, officials escaped being questioned about it.

FOI Docs Reveal #BorderFarce Was Not The Fault Of A Shoddy Press Release

Check out all of Crikey‘s sleuthing work HERE.

Image via Twitter.