Asylum seeker boats on the rise since offshore policy

October 31, 2012

THE Gillard government’s new Pacific solution for asylum seekers has spectacularly failed to deter boat arrivals – with the rate of asylum seekers hitting Australia’s shores actually increasing in the months since Labor embraced offshore processing.

The government is scrambling with plans for globally unprecedented legal changes to toughen the deterrent – removing the mainland from the migration zone and effectively taking away the right for boat arrivals to claim asylum in Australia.

But the hardline message has so far failed. An analysis of boat arrivals in the weeks leading up to the adoption the Houston report shows a sharp rise of more than 1300 asylum seekers – or 30 per cent – compared with the 2½ months before.

More than 5700 asylum seekers have now arrived since August 13, the cut-off date from when the government has warned people could be sent for offshore processing.

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That compares with 4300 over the same period before the cut-off – with the difference alone going close to filling the quota for asylum seekers on Nauru.

The government had declared in-principle support for all the recommendations of the panel into asylum seeker policy, led by former Defence chief Angus Houston.

But potential for asylum seekers to languish for years in the Pacific waiting for their claims to be decided has sparked serious concerns among refugee advocates and lawyers.

Human rights lawyer Rachel Ball said the plans to excise the mainland and deny asylum seekers the right to make refugee claims in Australia was unprecedented for a country signed on to international conventions.

”Excision is an affront to justice and the rule of law,” Ms Ball said.

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Filed under Analysis, Asylum Policy, PNG/Pacific Solution

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