Channel 7 – Australian Border Force patrolling the northern maritime boundary

As an island nation Australia has
search-and-rescue responsibility for almost 10 percent of the Earth’s surface,
nowhere more vital than our northern coastline, a vast region patrolled by our
border force. It’s a 24 hour a day operation, our cameras the first given
permission to record the battle on a very important part of the ocean. These are the serene islands of
Australia’s northern border, and this is the Australian Border Force. They police one of the world’s longest
and most difficult maritime boundaries and can spend up to a month at sea, a
thin blue line blocking guns, drugs, illegal fishing and people smuggling. It’s a big
border, a big coastline. Seven News joined the crew of the Thaiyak, a vessel
usually stationed at Ashmore Reef. This island is Australian soil just across
that water is Papua New Guinea and not much further Indonesia. The area is remote and it’s vast. It means having officers on the sea. but also in the air. Step into a border force helicopter and the scale of the task becomes clear. And we can get a call and be on board and we can be on the islands in a very short period of time to respond to any incursions. Illegal
fishing is a constant issue but these islands are also used by Australian and
foreign smugglers to make illegal trades. To move contraband such as drugs, pre cursors in exchange for firearms. Officers intercept small boats operating at the border (two-way radio chatter). Illegal immigration remains a problem PNG islanders are allowed to visit
Australian soil without a passport or visa. Sending some back
home can be a battle. It’s one of the gateway points for vessels arriving in from Papua New Guinea. Those seized it sea will find themselves here, an on-board detention area. This is something that few people will see, two bunks on the lower level, three if you count that one there and then they just build them up towards the
ceiling. In other parts of the ship life at sea is more hospitable but it can still be tough. What’s the hardest thing about living onboard? Being away from family obviously, so yeah. (two-way radio chatter) If we relax in any area of our role, that’s when there’s going to be a weak point, and we all make a lot
of effort to remain vigilant. An effort most of us will never get to see. Mike
Duffy, Seven News.

Stephen Childs

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