Skip To Content

    Scott Morrison Has A Model Asylum-Seeker Boat In His Office As A Reminder He Stopped The Boats

    Totally normal.

    Mick Tsikas / AAP

    Australia's newest prime minister, Scott Morrison, has a model of a migrant boat in his office as a reminder that he "stopped the boats" of asylum-seekers coming to Australia while he was the minister for immigration.

    This tidbit of information was contained in a profile of the new PM by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

    Scott Morrison profiled in @nytimes https://t.co/pV4m0c8Ljq

    "His office features a model migrant boat bearing the proud declaration 'I Stopped These'" alongside a cabinet with a Jesus shrine, Dowd reported.

    Morrison was the first immigration minister in the Abbott government and oversaw the implementation of "Operation Sovereign Borders", which involved secretive operations to stop boats carrying asylum-seekers from coming back to Australia. Over 30 boats have attempted to get to Australia and been turned back in the time since the policy was enacted.

    The government has trumpeted its success in having almost no boats arrive in Australia since, but the whole operation has been highly secretive. There have been reports that the Australian government paid people smugglers to take the boats back to Indonesia.

    And there are still hundreds of asylum-seekers in detention on Nauru and Manus Island who have been told that they will never be resettled in Australia. Australia has one resettlement deal with the United States, but has yet to find a third-party resettlement location for the remaining refugees who miss out.

    After being immigration minister, Morrison was briefly social services minister, and then treasurer under former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

    He took over from Turnbull after his successor in immigration, Peter Dutton, staged a failed leadership challenge last month.

    BuzzFeed News has analysed Morrison's declarations of gifts and it appears that he either bought the boat for himself or hasn't declared the gift on the register of members' interest for either this term of parliament or the last term.

    It is apparently not a very large model, so maybe he didn't think it needed declaring.

    It's not a very big boat (I was at the interview in his office too) but its message is pretty clear... https://t.co/dPmqEG9vPt

    One boat from Vietnam made it to Australia last month, but Dutton said that those on board have since been returned to the country they travelled from.

    BuzzFeed News asked the Department of Home Affairs whether those returned had made asylum claims and whether those claims had been processed, but never received a response.

    Josh Taylor is a Senior Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

    Contact Josh Taylor at josh.taylor@buzzfeed.com.

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here