The Home Affairs Minister is making an urgent trip to address an apparent rise in people smugglers heading for Australia.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil is travelling to Sri Lanka to try and address an apparent rise in asylum-seeker boats bound for Australia.
Ms O’Neil will arrive in Sri Lanka on Monday night ahead of talks with senior officials.
The visit follows a phone conversation with her Sri Lankan counterpart last week and coincides with the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations.
“Minister O’Neil will discuss with her Sri Lankan partners how Australia can deepen co-operation and assist Sri Lanka as the country faces very difficult economic times, as well as strengthening engagement on transnational crime, including people smuggling,” her office said.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in many decades.
Food supplies are expected to run out within months and fuel is due to dry up within days.
The Australian Government has committed to sending Sri Lanka $50m in aid for food and healthcare needs.
Further funding is expected to be announced for the Sri Lankan navy and police to help stop people smugglers.
Four asylum-seeker boats have been intercepted by Australian and Sri Lankan authorities since Labor took office last month.
The Albanese government has maintained its hard line stance on refugees and boat turnbacks, confirming it would continue the take-back operations that took place under the Coalition.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Richard Marles will arrive in India on Monday night.
Human Rights Watch has urged Mr Marles to address head-on the Modi government’s crackdown on activists, journalists and protesters.
The organisation said given Australia’s growing trade and political ties with India, there had been a reluctance to speak out.
“This ‘quiet diplomacy’ approach has simply emboldened the Indian government to widen its repression,” the group said.
“We urge you to highlight your concerns at the erosion of the rule of law and the adoption of laws and policies that discriminate against religious minorities, especially Muslims.”