16 May 2012

Pessimistic Australian immigration predictions surpassed as boat arrivals approach 6,000

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When the government's preferred Australian immigration plan, the people swap deal known as the Malaysia Solution, was struck down in 2011, the Australian Senate predicted that 5,645 asylum seekers would arrive in the current financial year yet that number has already been surpassed with six weeks still remaining.

Australian immigration

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen (top) and Opposition Immigration Spokesperson Scott Morrison (bottom) have continued to trade insults over the immigration issue.

After Australian immigration authorities intercepted an asylum seeking boat carrying 121 passengers on Monday night, the total number of asylum seekers intercepted in the current financial year reached 5,828; 670 in the past two weeks alone.

The immigration debate has raged on since the Malaysia Solution was scuttled with political parties refusing to negotiate and continuing to place blame on each other while the problem continues.

The government wants to implement offshore processing with incoming asylum seekers while the opposing Coalition has favoured a much tougher line of enforcement, even promising to turn asylum seeking boats around and lead them out of Australian waters.

Yesterday's boat marked the fourth asylum seeking boat since the Gillard government announced its latest budget last week and Opposition Immigration Spokesperson Scott Morrison pounced on the announcement's timing to criticise the government further.

"Labor's budget on boats is blown before the ink is even dry," said Mr Morrison. "With no policy except a lame excuse to blame the opposition, a fresh AU$1.7 billion (£1.06 billion) blowout on asylum seekers in the budget and people smugglers sending record numbers of people by boat, Labor has simply given up protecting our borders and given in to the [Australian] Greens."

The governing Labor Party responded to Mr Morrison's accusations with further accusations of their own, claiming it is Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott's refusal to negotiate which is perpetuating the problem.

"Mr Abbott's cheap slogans won't stop the boats, but offshore processing will help to stop people taking these dangerous boat journeys and prevent more deaths at sea," said Immigration Minister Chris Bowen.

"Tony Abbott remains in denial, his tow backs policy is dangerous and ignores all the expert advice, including from our navy, which says it is dangerous and risks lives."

Indonesia, the main source of asylum seeking boats and whose waters any redirected boats would be escorted to, has previously rejected Mr Abbott's policy but the Coalition has insisted that such tough policies have worked in the past.

"Turning boats around where it is safe to do so is a key element of the Coalition's proven border protection policies which we will restore in government," said Mr Morrison.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge their Australia visa applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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