More arrivals inevitable


Two facts help put in context Australia’s biggest immigration challenge – the arrival of asylum seekers by boat. Fact one: right now, the number of boats bringing people to Australian waters to claim asylum is among the highest on record. In only three years since the mid-1970s – from 1999 to 2001 – have more people arrived on boats than in the past year. More than 60 boats arrived in 2009 carrying more than 2850 people, and another 25 carrying more than 1200 people have arrived this year. Fact two: the only sustained period in which not one boat landed was from 1980 to 1988. Since then, the lowest level of boat arrivals occurred in the six years after the 2001 Tampa episode. An obvious conclusion stems from the resurgent number of arrivals. Changes to the processing of asylum seekers by the federal government have encouraged people smugglers to step up their marketing and the inescapable result is that more people are attempting the journey to Australia.