Australian border authorities have revealed on election day that an asylum seeker boat was turned back earlier in the week.
Scott Morrison confirmed the interception after casting his vote in Sydney on Saturday.
The prime minister seized on the news as a chance to spruik his government's border policies.
"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," he said.
As immigration minister, Mr Morrison did not disclose when or if boats had been intercepted under his then-newly minted Operation Sovereign Borders.
Labor was apparently briefed on Wednesday's arrival.
Many voters received a text message on election day advising them of boat intercepts and encouraging them to vote for Liberal candidates if they wanted to keep borders secure.
NSW Liberals defended sending the mass text messages.
"As Australians go to vote today, it's important that they are informed about the choice that is before them," a spokesman said.
Australian Border Force released a statement on Saturday following comments from Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews in The Australian on Friday night.
Citing Ms Andrews, the paper said the Sri Lankan navy intercepted a fishing vessel and two dinghies carrying dozens of people off the Batticaloa coast.
Some 40 individuals including four people-smugglers were apprehended for attempting to "illegally migrate to a foreign country by sea", it said.
ABF head Rear Admiral Justin Jones on Saturday said "a vessel has been intercepted in a likely attempt to illegally enter Australia from Sri Lanka".
"The Australian government's policy remains unchanged," he said.
"We will intercept any vessel seeking to reach Australia illegally and to safely return those on board to their point of departure or country of origin."
The agency released a video last month warning people smugglers that border protections won't change regardless of the winner of Saturday's election.
Australian Associated Press
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