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Jul 6, 2010

Boat people: this is what you are "anxious" about

This week refugees, boat people and population growth have hit the headlines again. But what are the boat people statistics compared to the rest of the Australian population?


This week refugees, boat people and population growth have hit the headlines again. But what are the boat people statistics? See this fascinating infographic created by Robert Corr, with each unit representative of 2000 people.




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30 thoughts on “Boat people: this is what you are “anxious” about

  1. ParnassusMD

    Ooh – Red Dots! Does this mean they’re communists as well as islamic fanatics?

  2. Bob Biggs

    Yeah but they double in population every year so by 2020 we’ll be drowning in them unless we drown them first VOTE 1 ANDREW BOLT

  3. John Winter

    Great graphic – smart campaign. But it doesn’t compare apples with apples. If it was the green dots represented Australia’s natural birth rate, fair enough, but this represents an annual intake of refugees and migrants versus population. The tow are not the same measures.

    Regardless of your view on this issue, we should be prepared to view the argument from relevant statistics, not manufactured ones.

  4. Em

    Have a look at this graphic here. It shows it against the natural increase in the Australian population. Apples and apples.

  5. Johnfromplanetearth

    Come in legally and i don’t have a problem, come here in a boat pretending to be a refugee, throw away your ID and who knows who you are? Go home!

  6. John Winter

    Thank EM – that makes for a much more reasonable comparison.

  7. shepherdmarilyn

    Christmas Island is 2612 km from Perth, 1996 km from Broome, 2745 km from Darwin, 4949 from Melbourne, 4305 from Adelaide, 5308 from Sydney, 5293 from Brisbane. Ashmore Island is 2308 km from Perth, 637 from Broome, 856 from Darwin, 3585 from Melbourne, 2974 from Adelaide, 3736 from Sydney and 3557 from Brisbane.

    If Julia Gillard actually thinks we on the mainland of Australia can see these boats “looming over the horizon” to “give us fears” then she is living in fantasy land.

    Of course the people on Christmas Island see them “looming” over the horizon but they have never shown the least bit of fear for the Afghans, Sri Lankans, Iraqis, Iranians, Palestinians and Kurds who do arrive and they must laugh out loud at our ridiculous whining so far away.

    Unless Gillard has long distance eyesight the likes of which superman would kill for she is talking racist crap and I wish the major parties would stop blowing the dog whistles and flat out lying about asylum seekers – it is not illegal, the don’t need papers and they should not ever be jailed like we do.

    Australia helped to write the refugee convention in 1951 because we turned away Jewish refugees in 1938 to protect the white Australia policy, do we want a re-run with Afghans and Iraqis fleeing wars we started being todays jews sent home to slaughter and genocide?

  8. Shermozle

    Can’t we just drown Blot? That’s at least taking real action on population.

  9. LacqueredStudio

    Shepherdmarilyn to thread.

    The more compassionate and reasonable of us towards refugees in this country are done for, without a foul-mouthed militant with the bottle to verbally devour the Prime Minister where she stands.

  10. Stilgherrian

    I don’t have a problem with the original graphic, as it shows how the influx of migrants of all kinds increases the Australian population — in a small chunk relative to the overall population base as opposed to it being some sort of massive invasion.

    Even the second graphic people are pointing to shows what a minor issue we’re talking about. Of all the migrants, only 1 on 60-odd is a refugee who arrived via boat.

    What I do have a problem with is people doing what Johnfromplanetearth just did: refer to asylum seekers as somehow illegal.

    Everyone has the right to seek asylum in another country, no matter how they choose to travel. There is nothing illegal whatsoever in choosing to seek asylum, or in choosing to travel by boat. It only becomes illegal if the application for asylum / refugee status fail and you then do not leave. At that point you have overstayed your visa. But of course the vast majority of asylum seekers, however they arrive, are found to be genuine refugees.

    To characterise the people in boats as “pretending to be a refugee” is, in my opinion, obscene.

    Of course the median visa-overstayer is an Irish male in his mid- to late-20s working in a call centre –but we don’t send the armed forces down to Bondi to “turn back the backpackers”. Why is that?

  11. takai

    I for one would like to see more evidence of the stats used for the graph.

    His 37 total squares for migration end up at about 75000 people (being generous here). The ABS on the other hand records 277,000 people as “net overall migration” http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3101.0 which is the graph pron that Tim Bennett references in his “people” graph that Em linked to above.

    So where have approximately 200,000 people gone in this graph?

  12. takai

    Um, just a quick update to my last post. Seems that ABS are possibly using non-permanent migration stats for the 277,000 people, versus IMMI who cite permanent migration in this set of stats: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/02key.htm

  13. Vicki K

    Brilliant. Have shared it about.

    Yep, that tiny red dot’s got people in conniptions. They should try living in Europe for a while, then come talk to me about problems with refugees.

    Truly. We should be ashamed of our own ridiculousness.

  14. Vicki K

    “Stilgherrian: Of course the median visa-overstayer is an Irish male in his mid- to late-20s working in a call centre — but we don’t send the armed forces down to Bondi to “turn back the backpackers”. Why is that?”

    Because they’re Irish of course! (Or NZ’ers, or Brits in general… you get the picture). They look like us. People who come by boat don’t. But yeh Julia, it’s got nothing to do with racism.

    Truly – if people were concerned about ‘our border security’, they should be looking to where the real problems lie, and they’re not with the boats.

  15. Juffy

    Re. EM’s graphic – what happens if a migrant arrives in Australia and then dies shortly afterwards, or goes home voluntarily? Presumably they’ve made a +1 to the migrants count, but then a -1 to the natural increase (or net migrant count) since once they’re here they’re (rightly) lumped in with the rest of us.

    I think it should actually look at gross increases, without trying to take into account the negatives (deaths and emigration) since neither of those factors can be applied independently to refugees/humanitarian visas. Looked at that way, refugees go from 0.83% to 0.41% – basically, whack another 5-6 rows of blue and purple people on the top and marvel at how truly insignificant the number of boat people is.

  16. shepherdmarilyn

    Not too many years ago the entire population of the country were boat people. East Timor has said “get stuffed” and asking the Karzai government to protect anyone when he can’t leave his own palace is a delusion.

  17. Juffy

    “the entire population of the country were boat people”

    You mean, other than those pesky Aborigines? Or does “not too many years” mean 20-30,000? 🙂

  18. Shiro

    Stumbled across another graph on asylum seekers:

    It compares the number of boat arrivals in Australia with the number of unauthorised entries into other countries

  19. shepherdmarilyn

    Before the advent of planes you jerk.

  20. Sancho

    I’ve wagged my finger a number of times at posters saying other posters should be banned – die for your right to free speech and all that – but Marilyn Shepherd can’t seem to get a sentence out without abusing either another commenter or Julia Gillard.

    Tempers flare occasionally, but this consistent vilification and name-calling is, frankly, shitting all over the quality of discussion on Crikey. I vote Marilyn pulls her head in or Crikey is petitioned to delete her registration. No other site would tolerate this except maybe 4chan, and that’s not a league Crikey should want to be in.

    I should note that I’ve been commenting alongside Marilyn for years, mostly at the Oz letters forum, and share her political views on most topics. She is an embarrassment to the Australian left.

  21. Alex McKinnon

    Come August I will be voting for the very first time. Oh, the wonders of democracy! Now who to…pick…oh dear.

  22. shepherdmarilyn

    Oh Sancho do dry up. I don’t have to be nice to people who are morons.

  23. Snish

    Has anyone else noted that the media is a forum that is too easily manipulated to highlight events to the extent of sensationalized terror. We used to look at statistics and saw them as facts, we now see incredible stories of islamic occupation, outrageous queue jumping by well to do folks pretending to be desperate refugees fleeing from war torn and destitute countries, we see an invasion of needy human beings seeking a better life but ultimately sucking us dry of our precious resources, we see our own population, (originally mostly immigrants as well) as some sort of threatened deficit whilst this small intake of refugees as something equivalent to compound interest. This is all based in a deep seated fear perpetuated by sensational topic mongering. Australia used to be about a fair go, we were a gutsy friendly people who understood what it was to be the underdog. Now all we do is whine about how we THINK we are in danger, we used to be the lucky country because our attitude made it lucky, …mate, selfishness makes nothing lucky, it makes us stingy and miserable.

    Do you know that 100,000 Australians migrated to other countries permanently last year? It’s the great Australian exodus, google it friends, it’s easy to find. How is it that we don’t hear about the exodus in comparison to the intake?

    Now while we’re all busy adjusting our terror levels to the refugee issue, what’s the important stuff we should actually be terrified about that we are being distracted from?

  24. 1gmd

    @ shepherdmarilyn

    Please keep your posts as lively and as fruity as the censors allow and embarrass the crap out of everyone – we should all be ashamed at the place we find ourselves in.

    This shameful abuse of Timor is unforgiveable.

    We sacrificed 10s of thousands of Timorese lives to protect 2/2 Independent Company in WWII and then walked away from them in 1975 and now we want to get them to clean up this dog’s vomit of a policy… Australia’s shame knows no bounds –

    (In this case at least Downer and Howard stood up when it was needed to protect the infant sate of Timor l’este that’s one you have to give them)

  25. shepherdmarilyn

    I intend to. Subletey was never my middle name and it ain’t going to be now.

    We are a nation of jerks and if people want to get precious about a bit of language well then boo sucks to them.

    I proudly wore the label of winner of the swearing contests on the 2 mile walk to school when I was 9.

    2. Under Section 36 of the Migration Act 1958, a criterion for a Protection visa is
    that the applicant for the visa is a non-citizen in Australia

  26. shepherdmarilyn

    And why do we have to build a new jail in East Timor, why not just accept the Afghan and Sri Lankans we have had incarcerated illegally in Indonesia?

  27. Rod Hagen

    Takai wrote”His 37 total squares for migration end up at about 75000 people (being generous here). The ABS on the other hand records 277,000 people as “net overall migration”

    Takai, the figure you quote (for 2007-8) includes over 100,000 overseas students, together with another 80,000 people temporarily here on business, visitor and working holiday visas.

    The vast majority of people arriving here each year are people who we either want to extract a dollar from directly (such as overseas students and tourists) or who we want to fill gaps in the workforce.

    My own suspicion is that the heightened perception of a “problem” with respect to immigration in Australia is actually fuelled primarily by overseas student numbers creating much greater “visibility” of some ethnic groups. The conservatives, of course, can’t afford to base their xenophobic rallying calls on this, as it is an important economic contributor to Australia, and they don’t want to be seen to be “bad for business” or to be attacking a quite powerful lobby group.

    So they focus on the trivial number of asylum seekers and refugees – people in a far worse position to fight back – when they want to extract a bit of irrational fear of the “foreign” from the Australian electorate.

  28. Erin D. Vine

    My esteemed colleague at work suggests that if the “Get Over It” meme is to take off it needs to be made intelligible to the average tabloid paper reader. The MCG is a standard unit of measurement in these journals of note, so we need to talk about how long it would take for our boat people inflows to fill the MCG. His rough calculation is 33 years…

  29. Rod Hagen

    Indeed, Erin. Another way of looking at it is that a years worth of boat people would fill less than 1/10th of the capacity of Great Southern Stand at the MCG. I suspect that would they actually be outnumbered by the members of the Collingwood Cheer squad (now there is a frightening thought! 😉 )

    Another potential comparison, involves the number of people who visit Melbourne’s ‘Crown Casino” every day.

    On the “Crown Casino” measure, if boats happened to continue to arrive at the same rate for the foreseeable future, and we take a very high estimate of 5000 “boat people” a year, it will take nine years before the same number arrive as visit the Melbourne casino on average every single day of the year.

  30. mortagesareopiatesforthemasses

    Nice graphic but shame there is no information on timeframes…. still the kids might just get it

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