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Minister Giles backs down from drone surveillance claim

written by David Hollingworth | June 4, 2024

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has rowed back on his claim that immigration detainees were being tracked by drones.

Minister Giles clarified the matter after coming under scrutiny over the admission.

“Last week, in an interview on Sky News, I stated that Operation AEGIS was using drones,” Minister Giles said in a statement released before question time on 3 June.

“I relied on information provided by my department at the time, which has since been clarified.


“As part of the work monitoring and supporting community safety, Operation AEGIS draws on information from a range of sources using different technologies, including aerial open-source and other imagery through their work with state and territory law enforcement bodies.”

Minister Giles said the cohort were under “strict visa conditions” after their release following a High Court decision.

“This can include electronic monitoring, curfews, financial reporting, spot checks, random home visits, as well as the other mandatory conditions, which means the location of every individual is known.”

Minister Giles faced further questions from the opposition during question time, where he again said the admission was based on advice from his department.

Speaking to the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing, shadow immigration minister Dan Tehan said Minister Giles’ statement was not enough.

“He needs to come out, and he needs to clear the record once and for all,” shadow minister Tehan said.

“There are just more and more questions that he needs to answer.”

On Friday (31 May), the Australian Federal Police also confirmed that drones were not being used as a part of Operation AEGIS and that it had not been present at any such discussions.

After Minister Giles made his initial statements regarding drone use last week, LNP Senator James Paterson called on the minister to come clean on what Senator Paterson called at the time a “startling” admission.

“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 last week.

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

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