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Borderforce, navy and army step up patrols in Torres Strait to keep out Covid and swine fever

Border patrols in the Torres Strait have been stepped up after Port Moresby yesterday was struck with 52 Covid 19 infections forcing the city into lockdown for 14 days.
Senior doctors said the base hospital would be unable to cope with any more cases and have begun establishing a temporary clinic to deal with an expected rush of Covid 19 patients.
Borderforce and the Australian Navy have increased patrols across the top of Torres Strait near Sabai Island from where the PNG mainland can be seen.

Papuans have been visiting northern Australia shores for centuries making it difficult for Borderforce to police this cultural practice

For decades Papuans and Islanders have been visiting the mainland and this tradition is making it difficult for Borderforce and the navy to prevent incursions by Papuans in tinnies or canoes.
Compounding the Covid outbreak is the reported incidence of African swine fever in PNG. In March Department of Primary Industries inspectors travelled to Port Moresby to monitor cases found in domestic pigs.
In June the army stationed 50 regular soldiers at the ADF barracks in Bamaga to patrol the northern coastline assisted by drones flying from Bamaga Airport.
Soldiers are maintaining regular patrols throughout the far north. During exercises throughout the islands earlier this year local inhabitants and  reservists themselves complained they were not allowed to bring their Steyr rifles or other armaments while on active duty.
It is not known if the present detachment of regular soldiers is armed.
Last week infrared equipped drones discovered in one of the many bays a drum of chemical compound used in the manufacturing of the dangerous drug, ice.

Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch said humanitarian food drops are being made to southern PNG villages  and a new medical clinic is being established in an effort to stem the flow of Papuans to the Australian mainland and islands sourcing staples and medical assistance.

He said any villagers trying to access islands or the mainland for family visits would be turned back.

One of two Borderforce vessels regularly patrolling the Torres Strait

On Thursday Cape York Peninsula pastoralists reported seeing eight travellers of Chinese appearance driving north on the Peninsula Development Road.
The drivers of the eight four wheel drives were the sole occupants with two of the vehicles having back-up equipment and the others empty.
The observers said the vehicles were “quite well kept and shiny and could have been hire cars.”
Their movements were reported to Norforce and Queensland Police.