Is our "surge" in asylum seekers push or pull? Has the Rudd Government’s bleeding heart softness encouraged refugees to head to our shores? Or are external factors at play?

First, some context. According to the UNHCR, at the end of 2008 there were 15.2m refugees, and one-third were in our own region. The end of the civil war in Sri Lanka and Pakistan’s drive against the Taliban will only have increased the number of refugees in the Asia-Pacific region further this year. Even so, Europe is the biggest destination for asylum seekers: 333,000 claims for asylum were made in Europe 2008, including 35,000 in France and 30,0000 in the United Kingdom. The United States received just under 50,000 claims and Canada 35,000.