Customs is struggling to crew patrol planes and boats as it battles record numbers of asylum seeker arrivals.
A surge in boats from Sri Lanka intercepted off the Cocos Islands is challenging Customs “capacity to address and respond to other maritime security threats and maintain awareness across the remainder of the Australian maritime domain”, documents show.
Customs annual report also revealed an increase in asylum seekers calling for rescue and responses to tragedies “continued to place pressure on maritime operations”.
Limited crew numbers have further “impacted on the availability of vessels.”
Officials are also being tied up in court as they are required to attend cases relating to asylum boats they have boarded – and finding air crew for Customs Dash 8 surveillance plane, which patrols waters off Christmas Island, has become difficult.