There is something very cynical about the way our political system works to try to persuade us that if something is said often enough as one-liners, then it must be true. So it is with the fiction that processing asylum seekers in Nauru makes sense. The secretary of DIAC told a Senate committee last October that even the meagre benefits of Nauru processing in the past could not be repeated.

When the Coalition says that it would not support the government in amending the Migration Act to return it to the "pre High Court understandings", it effectively signalled that it was OK to try to come by boat. The scuttling of the Malaysian arrangement has given oxygen to the people smugglers. This largely accounts for the considerable increase in boat arrivals in recent months. It was quite predictable. In the March quarter this year, asylum seekers coming to Australia boat rose to 1602 compared with 935 in March last year, although asylum seekers coming by air still exceeded those coming by boat.