25 Feb 2011


Boat arrivals almost all get visas

Verity Edwards: Edited by S W T Read Feb 25:2011

  • From:The Australian 

  • February 25, 2011 12:00AM

  • ALMOST all asylum-seekers arriving by boat in Australia waters over the past three years have had their refugee status applications approved.
    The Coalition claims that people-smugglers are taking advantage of the federal government's immigration policies, they do not mention the fact that majority of these refugees have come from a war almost on our doorstep.
    Figures released under Freedom of Information laws show that the Immigration Department approved 94 per cent of all refugee status claims from people arriving by boat, after initial assessments and independent merits reviews, between October 2008 and December 22 last year.
    In stark contrast, the department approved only 39 per cent of protection visa requests for non-boat arrivals in the first half of this financial year, or 909 people from the 2321 people who applied.
    Therefore we can assume that the wealthier the refugee who has access to air travel is unlikely to be as honest, in fact these figures indicate that a 61% are dishonest in their claims.
    Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the figures proved asylum-seekers were more likely to be granted refugee status if they boarded a boat instead of a plane.
    No Scott it does not, it proves in fact that people who have only one way out will take it, how many of these people would rather pay exorbitant sums to smugglers when a plane trips is so much cheaper, none of them if they had access to planes.
    "So long as the bias remains to those arriving by boats, then the government can expect more to come and greater chaos in their asylum policies," he said. "The system bias pulls people into boats."Mr Morrison said until the federal government changed its policies, the boats would continue.
    The department refused 49 per cent of protection visa applications for non-boat arrivals in the 2009-10 financial year, or 2266 people, and 55 per cent the year before, or 2624 people.
    These figures prove that those travelling by air are not as honest as arrivals by boat, we need to develop better access for refugees in countries closer to their homeland, that would stop people from getting on boats in the first place.

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