cyber daily logo

Breaking news and updates daily. Subscribe to our Newsletter

Breaking news and updates daily. Subscribe to our Newsletter X facebook linkedin Instagram Instagram

Exclusive: James Paterson calls for clarity on ABF’s ‘secret drone surveillance program’

Shadow home affairs minister “startled” by Andrew Giles’ admission that released immigration detainees are being monitored by drones.

user icon David Hollingworth
Thu, 30 May 2024
Exclusive: James Paterson calls for clarity on ABF’s ‘secret drone surveillance program’
expand image

The Labor government’s woes regarding more than 150 immigration detainees recently released into the community following an Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision took a turn today when Immigration Minister Andrew Giles admitted that drones were tracking the 153-person cohort.

When asked on Sky News why the Australian Border Force (ABF) had told Senate estimates that two of the former detainees, both convicted of violent crimes, were not being tracked with electronic ankle bracelets, Minister Giles responded that they were being monitored and that the government was assisting law enforcement in monitoring them.

“There is a quarter of a billion dollars that we’ve invested in supporting our law enforcement agencies to enforce that, and that’s enabled things like using drones to keep track of these people,” Giles said.


“We know where they are.”

When pressed on the matter, Giles went into more detail.

“There is so much being done for this cohort: spot checks, random house checks, as well as the use of drones that I just touched on,” Giles said.

Cyber Daily contacted the Department of Home Affairs for comment, and the questions were passed on to the ABF.

The ABF, however, refused to confirm the Immigration Minister’s statements or comment on how the drones were being operated.

“The Australian Border Force does not comment on the specifics of its operational capability or that of its law enforcement partners,” an ABF spokesperson said.

“Under Operation AEGIS, ABF and Australian Federal Police are working closely with state and territory authorities and law enforcement to ensure community safety.

“The use of surveillance technology by law enforcement agencies is governed by strict legislative requirements.”

Shadow home affairs minister Senator James Paterson said he was “startled” by the Immigration Minister’s admission and called on him to come clean about how they were being used.

Responding to the ABF’s comments, Senator Paterson called for an urgent response.

“It looks like Minister Giles accidentally spilled the beans on a secret drone surveillance program run by Border Force within Australia,” Senator Paterson told Cyber Daily.

“He should urgently clarify what he meant when he said former detainees were being monitored by drones in our community.”

Senator Paterson has said he will continue to question how the operation is being run at Senate estimates.

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

cyber daily subscribe
Be the first to hear the latest developments in the cyber industry.