Australia election 2022: Liberal text about asylum seeker boats rocks final hours, Grace Tame theory


An unsolicited text message was sent to residents urging them to vote Liberal

Australian voters in marginal seats have been bombarded with an 11th hour text message from the Liberal Party about the arrival of two asylum seeker boats, just hours before polls close. 

The texts, which are being sent as a ‘news alert’ refer to an ‘illegal’ boat that was intercepted by Border Force officials allegedly trying to enter Australia.

‘BREAKING: Australian Border Force has intercepted an illegal boat trying to reach Australia. Keep our borders secure by voting Liberal today,’ the text read.

Scott Morrison also warned more people smugglers will come to Australia under a Labor government as the prime minister and Anthony Albanese cast their vote. 

A second boat was intercepted on Wednesday by the Sri Lankan Navy before it reached Australian waters.

Daily Mail Australia understands there have been up to 30 asylum seeker boats intercepted by ABF this year alone – none of which prompted a text message alert.

A fishing vessel carrying dozens of people has been stopped by the Sri Lankan navy amid warnings that people smuggling could ramp up after election day

A fishing vessel carrying dozens of people has been stopped by the Sri Lankan navy amid warnings that people smuggling could ramp up after election day

Labor has emerged as the favourite among bookies with payout rates dropping from $1.55 on Friday to $1.32 on Saturday.

The timing of the boat arrival prompted theories that the arrival of the boat was no accident and had somehow been planned ahead of time as an election stunt.

Among those discussing the theory was 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame, who wrote that the boat arriving ‘on the eve of an election’ was ‘a chilling a coincidence’.

‘As well as being xenophobic, this vitriolic, fear-mongering rhetoric is blatant propaganda designed to undermine opponents,’ she wrote.

‘Our nation is better than this.

‘Whatever the truth is in this case, people are not pawns. People are people.’

Journalist Karen Middleton kickstarted the theory by revealing she was tipped off about the possibility weeks ago, but couldn’t verify it.

‘I got a tip on April 26 that two boats had left Sri Lanka, facilitated by SL authorities and timed to arrive just before election. Informant described it as “an election stunt”. Maybe it’s a coincidence,’ she wrote.

Among those discussing the theory was 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame (pictured with Mr Albanese, of whom she is a big fan), who wrote that the boat arriving 'on the eve of an election' was 'a chilling a coincidence'

Among those discussing the theory was 2021 Australian of the Year Grace Tame (pictured with Mr Albanese, of whom she is a big fan), who wrote that the boat arriving ‘on the eve of an election’ was ‘a chilling a coincidence’

Middleton said her source told of his friend in Colombo witnessing people being loaded on one of the boats in the presence of police.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews this week, after the first boat was intercepted, claimed people-smugglers were preparing to boost their operations on the event of a Labor election victory.

‘We know people-smugglers are watching and waiting for a change in Australia’s government, and they’re already trying to start up their illegal trade on the eve of an election,’ she said.

‘Only the Morrison Government can keep people-smugglers out of business through our strong stance and consistency on border policy – no one who comes here illegally by boat will ever be allowed to settle in Australia.’

This is despite Labor having exactly the same policy on asylum seekers, including turning back boats and offshore detention.

Voters were quick to vent their fury on social media, angry that a security issue was being politicised and spun for votes on election day, when no other boat arrivals received the same treatment.

One voter noted that the Liberal Party’s strange logic of using boat arrivals on its watch as evidence that Australians should not vote for Labor.

Advertising executive and media personality Craig Foster vented his anger after receiving the text message.

‘Absolutely disgusting. The use of vulnerable people, minority communities to stoke fear, division, demonisation for political gain,’ he wrote.

‘My deepest apologies and solidarity with our beautiful Australian-Sri Lankan community for being used in this way. We must be better than this.’

Mr Morrison was accompanied by wife Jenny and daughters Lily and Abbey as he slipped his ballot into the box at Lilli Pilli Public School, Sydney's south, on Saturday

Mr Morrison was accompanied by wife Jenny and daughters Lily and Abbey as he slipped his ballot into the box at Lilli Pilli Public School, Sydney’s south, on Saturday

Mr Albanese cast his vote at Marrickville Town Hall in his home seat of Grayndler as he was watched on by his son Nathan, partner Jodie Haydon and cavoodle Toto

Mr Albanese cast his vote at Marrickville Town Hall in his home seat of Grayndler as he was watched on by his son Nathan, partner Jodie Haydon and cavoodle Toto

Mr Morrison made one last pitch to voters to re-elect him as prime minister, confirming a boat sailing from Sri Lanka had been intercepted – and that only he could protect the country from more people smugglers.

The Australian Border Force released a statement the boat was likely attempting to ‘illegally’ enter Australia after it was reported it came ‘very close’ to the west coast of Christmas Island. 

‘I can confirm that there’s been an interception of a vessel en route to Australia,’ Mr Morrison said.

‘That vessel has been intercepted in accordance with the policies of government and they’re following those normal protocols and I can simply say this. 

‘I’ve been here to stop this boat but in order for me to be there to stop those that may come from here, you need to vote Liberal and Nationals today.’ 

The messages prompted the Australia Electoral Commission to tweet that ‘electoral laws don’t prohibit text messages sent by candidates or political parties’.

Labor has emerged as the favourite among bookies with payout rates dropping from $1.55 on Friday to $1.32 on Saturday

Labor has emerged as the favourite among bookies with payout rates dropping from $1.55 on Friday to $1.32 on Saturday 

Mr Albanese addressed a crowd of excited supporters outside the polling booth promising he would remain 'one of the people'

Mr Albanese addressed a crowd of excited supporters outside the polling booth promising he would remain ‘one of the people’

Scott Morrison was helped by his wife Jenny as he cast his vote in the seat of Cook on Saturday

Scott Morrison was helped by his wife Jenny as he cast his vote in the seat of Cook on Saturday

Ms Andrews warned people smugglers were hoping for a change in government and waiting for the outcome of the election.

A fishing boat and two ­dinghies headed for a ‘foreign country’ were intercepted off the Batticaloa coast by the Sri Lankan navy on Wednesday.

Some 40 people, including four people smugglers, were apprehended for trying to ‘illegally migrate to a foreign country by sea’.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton took to Twitter to claim more were on their way.

‘People smugglers have obviously decided who is going to win the election and the boats have already started,’ he tweeted.

Mr Morrison was accompanied by wife Jenny and daughters Lily and Abbey as he visited his seat of Cook in Sydney on Saturday.

He smiled ear to ear for the cameras and hugged his wife as he slipped his ballot into the box at Lilli Pilli Public School, and thanked the residents in his electorate for showing their support.

‘No one gets to serve in the positions that I’ve had the great privilege… to have in positions as prime minister, or treasurer, or minister, unless you are first supported by your local community,’ he said. 

Voters attend a voting centre at South Yarra Library in Melbourne and are greeted by election volunteers

Voters attend a voting centre at South Yarra Library in Melbourne and are greeted by election volunteers

Two young voters chat to a Greens volunteer in the seat of Higgins in inner Melbourne. Their candidate is Sonya Semmens

Two young voters chat to a Greens volunteer in the seat of Higgins in inner Melbourne. Their candidate is Sonya Semmens

Millions of Australians voted before the election, either by post or at pre-poll outlets, but the majority still showed up election day

Millions of Australians voted before the election, either by post or at pre-poll outlets, but the majority still showed up election day

Mr Albanese cast his vote at Marrickville Town Hall in his home seat of Grayndler as he was watched on by his son Nathan, partner Jodie Haydon and cavoodle Toto.

the opposition leader addressed a crowd of excited supporters outside the polling booth promising he would remain ‘one of the people’.

‘I was raised with three great faiths. And labor, of course, was one of them. I’ve held to it my whole life,’ he said.

‘What I wanted to know in myself was that I hadn’t left anything on the field. And I’ve done that. I’ve done my best for the cause of Labor, which I’m passionate about.

‘I’m not in this to change where I live. I’m in it to change the country. And that’s what I intend to do.’

The opposition leader is aiming to form a majority government – which means a minimum target of 76, as low as the coalition’s grasp on Parliament House during its term. 

‘My message is I want to represent all Australians,’ Mr Albanese said. ‘I want to unite the country. There’s been a lot of division in recent times. 

Mr Morrison made one last pitch to voters to re-elect him as prime minister, confirming a boat headed from Sri Lanka to Australia had been intercepted - and that only he could protect the country from more people smugglers

Mr Morrison made one last pitch to voters to re-elect him as prime minister, confirming a boat headed from Sri Lanka to Australia had been intercepted – and that only he could protect the country from more people smugglers

'My message is I want to represent all Australians,' Mr Albanese said after casting his vote on Saturday

‘My message is I want to represent all Australians,’ Mr Albanese said after casting his vote on Saturday

‘It’s one of my criticisms of the current government is that Scott Morrison looks for division and difference rather than unity and common purpose. 

‘I want to bring people together and regardless of how people vote in our great democracy, it’s good that people express their views at the ballot box. Once it’s done, then we need to unite and move forward as a nation. I believe that we can.’

Mr Albanese said he felt a very strong sense of ‘responsibility’ as he would be only the fourth Labor leader in 80 years to win government from the Coalition – if he was elected.

‘I remember as a very young, young boy when Gough Whitlam won in ’72,’ he said.

‘I just remember my mum telling me that, you know, our team had won. It was a bit like the ’71 grand final when our other team won against St George when Souths won. I grew up with a passion for Labor.’

Mr Albanese said he wanted to see ‘democracy function properly’ before criticising Mr Morrison.

The Opposition leader is aiming to form a majority government - which means a minimum target of 76, as low as the coalition's grasp on Parliament House during its term

The Opposition leader is aiming to form a majority government – which means a minimum target of 76, as low as the coalition’s grasp on Parliament House during its term

The major party leaders may have cast their vote, but it is not just blue, red and green placards and T-shirts at polling booths across NSW - a sea of teal represents the charge of independent candidates in some electorate (pictured, Josh Frydenberg casts his vote at Belle Vue Primary School in Melbourne)

The major party leaders may have cast their vote, but it is not just blue, red and green placards and T-shirts at polling booths across NSW – a sea of teal represents the charge of independent candidates in some electorate (pictured, Josh Frydenberg casts his vote at Belle Vue Primary School in Melbourne)

‘My big concern with this government is what is there to be proud of?’ he said.

‘You know, the sort of nonsense that we’ve seen-of-playing wedge politics against vulnerable people that Scott Morrison’s been prepared to do during this campaign and the other wedge politics throughout this. 

‘We’re a better country than that. I want to change politics. Be very clear. I want to change politics. I want to change the way it operates. 

‘I want Parliament to function properly. I want democracy to function properly. That’s why I’m in this. I’m in it to change the country and that’s what I’m here to do.’ 

The major party leaders may have cast their vote, but it is not just blue, red and green placards and T-shirts at polling booths across NSW – a sea of teal represents the charge of independent candidates in some electorates.

In the seat of North Sydney, independent Kylea Tink turned up to vote in her signature pink.

Defence minister Peter Dutton casts his vote in his electorate of Dickson in Brisbane

Defence minister Peter Dutton casts his vote in his electorate of Dickson in Brisbane

She hopes to usurp moderate Liberal incumbent Trent Zimmerman, who holds the seat with a 9.3 per cent margin.

‘There are thousands of people across the North Sydney electorate standing with me in this movement,’ she told AAP on Saturday outside a polling station at Naremburn.

‘People feel the two major parties are more focused on their own internal politicking.

‘The community made it very clear they wanted to see faster action on climate, they want to see an integrity commission established, they want to see systemic inequality addressed and they want to see our economy re-geared so it becomes forward focused.

‘We’re ready to lead a new way of doing politics in this country.’

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