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Jul 8, 2010

Asylum seekers mathematics

The footage of the latest boatload of people to chug through our waters is currently on loop on Sky News. Images of our Prime Minister parading around on a patrol boat dominate the front pages today.

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The footage of the latest boatload of people to chug through our waters is currently on loop on Sky News. Images of our prime minister parading around on a patrol boat dominate the front pages today.

Here’s a breakdown of the media mentions of boat people/asylum seekers since Monday across print, television and radio (care of Media Monitors):


Lay those huge numbers against this neat graphic (care of Tim Bennett at Electron Soup):


You could be forgiven for thinking the importance the prime minister is placing on this issue vastly outweighs the lonely little orange person on this chart.

There is one set of numbers we haven’t considered yet. That’d be the Labor government’s internal polling. We’re guessing that’s the maths that really explains all the fuss over this lone stick figure.

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18 thoughts on “Asylum seekers mathematics

  1. BarryR

    I’m not sure whether the migration figures include the emigration. This is from: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/05emigration.htm#i
    A total of 81 018 people left Australia permanently in 2008-09.

    About 100 years ago, my grandparents had to make a decision: walk away from home or die.
    In 50 years time, someone will make the Afghanistan version of “Fiddler on the Roof”. The audience will cry and wonder why no one helped the people who are fleeing from their homes.
    No one likes to be forced to run away from their home. Would you?


  2. northerner

    Marilyn, once again we differ on the existence of the queue. The UN has 800,000 registered refugees awaiting resettlement – all of them sitting in camps, villages, towns in non-signatory states. There are 100,000 or so resettlement slots for them. That’s a queue. The UNHCR knows it, the refugees know it, and the prime resettlement countries know it too.

    The people on these lists have as much right to protection under the Convention as the asylum seekers sitting on Christmas Island. What you don’t seem to comprehend is that, irrespective of whether a refugee in Pakistan, for example, has been registered with the UNHCR, he does not have that protection. The UNHCR might recognize him as a refugee, but Pakistan does not. And it’s not the UNHCR which grants protection, but the host country. Since Pakistan is not a signatory, it neither can nor will assess this person to be a refugee under the Convention, nor will it give him anything but temporary status while the UNHCR sorts things out. It’s up to the UNHCR to try to find him a durable solution, be it repatriation or by submitting his name for resettlement to a signatory country such as Australia.

    As you have pointed out elsewhere, we have no legal obligation to take these people. That does not make it illegal to do so. Third country resettlement is well within the parameters of the Convention. After all, it’s been going on for 60 years. All those European refugees who arrived in Canada and Australia and the US after the war were processed under these provisions. So were the Hungarians in 1956. As were many of the Vietnamese boat people taken out of Thailand and Hong Kong in the 70s. Processing refugees in Pakistan is no different.

    You say that only asylum seekers have a right to enter Australia. You are wrong. Anyone with a valid resident visa has that right. And Convention refugees selected and processed abroad enter this country with valid visas as legal permanent residents. Which means they have as much right to enter this country as you do.

    As you yourself say, “What frigging part of that is too difficult to understand?”

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