Oct 23 2009

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Boat People and Australia

According to the Australia Parliamentary Library, the first boat people to arrive in Australia arrived in April 1976 at Darwin, with five Indochinese men.

In the four years 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 Australia received a total of 143 Boat people, or an average of 37 per year.

In 2008-2009 it was 1,033 boat people arrivals for the year (about 3 per day)

In the first 11 days of 2009-2010 it was 73. (about 6 per day)


Boat people

A term used in the media and elsewhere to describe asylum seekers who arrive by boat or attempt to arrive by boat without authority to enter Australia.
DIAC uses the term ‘unauthorised boat arrivals’ or ‘unlawful boat arrivals’.

Boat people arrivals 1999-2009

Financial Year Boat people Arrivals
1999–00 4,175
2000–01 4,137
2001–02 3,039
2003–04 82
2005–06 61
2006–07 133
2007–08 25
2008–09 1,033
2009–10 5,609
2010–11 4,940

The change in 2002-2003, with the massive drop in numbers, came about following the Pacific Solution that was brought into effect during 2001-2002, following the increasing numbers of these arrivals from 1999.

The Pacific Solution was the system of transporting all asylum seekers to detention camps on a number of island nations in the Pacific Ocean, such as Nauru, and not allowing them to land on the Australian mainland.

Both the Liberal-National government and the Labor opposition of the time agreed on this plan when put forward in parliament. Source abc.net.au

This action resulted in many boat people choosing to stay in places such as Indonesia, rather than risk the crossing only to be held in a camp while they are processed.

The Pacific Solution was discontinued in 2008.

2010 Update:

A form of this Pacific Solution is being proposed by the current ALP Government, but using different islands to the previous Liberal government.
This seems to have come about for the same reason as the original “Pacific Solution”: an increasing number of Boat people arrivals.

Year 2009 Asylum claims

from the UN Refugee Agency Report at: http://www.unhcr.org/4ba7341a9.html

Country Group Population Asylum Claims 1 Asylum claim per x of population
Europe 731,000,000 286,700 2,550
USA/Canada 341,058,550 82,300 4,144
Australia/New Zealand 26,652,171 6,500 4,100
Japan/rep of Korea 175,886,369 1,700 103,463

A Morgan poll was carried out in July 2010, with regard to the question of Asylum seekers, and the specific question of those arriving by boat.


The question was:

Should asylum seekers arriving by boat be allowed to apply for immigration as now, or should they all be returned and told to apply through normal refugee channels?

The answers were:

64% Be returned and apply via normal refugee channels.
26% Stay as now
5% Other
5% Can’t Say


1 - 1,942

Permanent link to this article: http://www.abcdiamond.com/australia/boat-people-and-australia/

For Books with Free Delivery to Australia: BookDepository UK and USA and Fishpond Australia


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  1. kaine hay

    how does it make sence that an illegal immagrant gets 50 thousand a year while a vietnam vetran gets around 16 thousand a year please explain???

  2. Mr Walter Hewitt

    Dear Sir/Madam, currently I am writing a book on Anglo/Irish immigration and should like to include some of your statistics on Australia’s cost of living etc. Also on the number of boat people arrivals etc.
    I would appreciate it if you could let me know if this is OK.

    Kind regards

    Mr Walter Hewitt

    1. ABCDiamond

      I have no problems whatsoever with this information being used, and, as long as the source url is shown, (eg: http://www.abcdiamond.com/australia/boat-people-and-australia, for this one) then I am happy for anyone to use my information.

  3. Patrick Hopper

    These people will never make good citizens of any country. They, the majority, are purely trouble makers and should be returned to where they came from immediately, if they are protesting now what will they be protesting about in the future. They should be directing their anger at the boat owners, but it was their choice, to take the trip anyway so how do they have the gaul to attack the Australian Government. As said they will not make good citizens of any country and must be returned to where they came immediately, not in 12 months time.

    1. ABCDiamond

      I get the feeling that the ones protesting may not have been the new arrivals from the sinking boat. But I feel that some of the existing detainees may have taken the opportunity of that media coverage to get their voices heard.

      If it was those new arrivals complaining, then it would of course make this “situation” much worse.

  4. ABCDiamond

    Christmas Island is Australia’s main detention area for holding “non visa holding boat arrivals” while their claims are considered.

    A very recent incident occurred where one boat, trying to reach Christmas Island, was pounded by heavy seas and many occupants lost their lives.

    This was immediately followed by a protest at the camp asking for UN to intervene. One placard saying “Help, where is UN?”.

    The answer to that, as thought by me and answered by others, was: The UN is at the refugee camps that these boat people have paid out money to bypass.

    One of the stories from the Courier Mail newspaper:

    A PROTEST has erupted at the detention centre on Christmas Island where survivors of Wednesday’s asylum-seeker boat disaster are recovering from their ordeal.

    Up to 100 asylum-seekers, including women and children, this afternoon massed in an open area of the Phosphate Hill detention centre, shouting and chanting “Help me, UN.”

    One held up a sign saying “Help, where is UN?”

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