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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.


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. Scott

    This diagram understates the level of migration.
    If you check out the population flow statistics from the Department of immigrations report, you actually find that Net permanent migration makes up 64.6% of new Australians. Natural increase makes up 35.6% of new arrivals…very different to what is illistrated above. http://www.immi.gov.au/media/publications/statistics/popflows2008-09/pop-flows-appendix.pdf

  2. EngineeringReality

    I don’t like salmon coloured stick figures – gotta stop them getting in!!!!

    I don’t care how much money is spent – how many rights are trampled – just stop them before they get here!!!!

  3. shepherdmarilyn

    But do the media monitors ever tell us what the people are saying because no matter where I listen it is mostly to mock Gillard and Abbott.

  4. Malcolm

    Paint it how you like, its queue pushing, and its not fair to those who wait their turn.
    Surely we don’t believe they get in a boat in Sri lanka or Afghanistan and paddle here.
    I am astounded at the high percentage this portrays.

  5. Nearlythere

    Scott: perhaps the difference in the figures relates to the categories being used. The immigration department figures are for what it calls Net Overseas Migration (NOM) which it defines as: “a measure of the net addition (or loss) to Australia’s resident population from migration. NOM is net permanent and long-term overseas migration plus an adjustment for changes in travel intentions.”

    I suspect that Mr Bennett’s “Net Permanent Migration” figure is calculated on a different basis.

    I could be wrong, but!

  6. shepherdmarilyn

    There is no queue. God some people are deranged. Where is this queue and how come Australia is the only place in the world who knows about it.

    Jesus weeping people drive me frigging nuts.

    The only queue is in Canberra because that is the only place anyone can claim asylum in Australia.

    People cannot claim asylum here from any other country.

    An asylum seeker is the only person who has legal rights to come here, refugees already assessed in other countries have no such right.

    What frigging part of that is too difficult to understand?

  7. Meski

    @Scott: But you’re probably missing the point of the graph, which is to show that boat people make up a tiny percentage of our population increase. Even using your figures, it’s still tiny.

    @Malcolm: If you want to queue jump, it’s far easier to get on a plane, and just ignore the visa time limit. You avoid the whole messy ‘Pacific Solution'[1] camps that way.

    [1] What were they thinking to use such a negatively loaded phrase as ‘Pacific Solution’ connected with camps that they put people in?

  8. Informed Voter

    @Scott: Your figure is NOT Net Permanent Migration, your 64.6% (should read 64.4%) refers to Net Overseas Migration (which includes short-term migration) in Appendix A in your link.

    Tim Bennett’s graph uses Net Permanent Migration in Appendix B, equivalent to 77,000 people (as you will find his Net figure adds to).

    Please get your statistics correct first before blithely trying to denigrate other’s conclusions!

  9. Informed Voter

    Actually Net Overseas Migration includes long-term migration and permanent, not short-term… Checking my own facts!

  10. 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?


  11. Scott

    Sorry, a bit rushed in my earlier post resulting in some sloppy work.

    My point is the diagram above is not an accurate assessment of the contributions made by Natural Increase to the makeup of New Australians in 2009. He has put Natural Increase as 66.67% which is not correct. As mentioned above, it should be 35.6%

    The author should have added another category (Net long term migration) to his graph to accurately reflect what is going on. That is my point.

  12. Broggly

    No wonder the right wing hates boat people: they’re all reds!

  13. Gumble

    @Scott: You need to read a little bit more. The discussion here is about “permanent” additions – are non permanent New Australians as you have it. In this analysis Net Natural Increase is assumed to be staying for some time – new baby’s might leave but that is covered in migration departures. Net Overseas Migration (NOM) has 2 components – (i) permanent and (ii) long-term but not permanently. So we have diagram of permanent changes in the population. Sure there is a large block of movements that are long-term but I doubt that includes even one asylum seeker (“Thanks for getting me off that boat. Yeah, I’m seeking asylum but I’m not going to be staying”!!!)

  14. Malcolm

    Oh sorry to be so deranged!! I’ll get my nose out of my latte and stop reading the bible!! Ok so refugees must wait and asylum seekers just hop on in. People are making money out of transporting people in leaky boats at great risk. We need to have a reasonable approach to this policy. My friends from Serbia who applied in Germany waited for 8 years to get approval to come to Australia. If the approach to people was more sympathetic at this end of the equation, we might find the leaky boat trip might not be so attractive.

  15. Holden Back

    @Malcolm. Were your Serbian friends in a camp, or safe and free to work in a country that is a signatory to the UN Convention? Were they given access to health and other benefits, and able to return to Germany after leaving the country? Did they have educational opportunities in Germany whilst waiting?

    Getting in a boat in Afghanistan and paddling here really would be an impressive feat. Perhaps an altas would be a useful read over coffee, rather than a Bible. There must be tributaries of the Indus, I suppose . . .

  16. 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?”

  17. Malcolm

    @Holden Back-yes they were in a country that was signatory to the UN convention. They were beaten by their employers and had limited access to health care. How about you stop berating people like me who actually do something practical to help these people, and come up with some real solutions.
    And by the way I don’t read the bible or drink Lattes, I actually get off my high horse and provide practical help for less fortunate.
    They had less opportunities than you naively believe they should have.
    Anyway, have a nice day!

  18. Holden Back

    @ Malcolm- settle down.

    I was basing my comments on the experience of the family of some Bosnian refugee friends who were in Germany.

    It was your suggestion of beverage and reading material.

    You seem to be the one in the elevated equestrian location, and somewhat saddle-sore.


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