The facts about ‘boat people’ – The government & media are lying

Asylum seeker boat
Image source: AFP – Antonio Dasiparu

Who are ‘boat people’?

‘Boat people’ are asylum seekers who arrive by boat, without a valid visa or any other appropriate authorisation. They’re seeking protection (asylum) because they fear persecution in/from the home country (torture, murder, illegal imprisonment, etc.).

Are ‘boat people’ doing something illegal?

No. Asylum seekers are NOT illegal. They’ve broken no laws at all. Under Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.”

The terms, ‘illegal immigrants’, ‘illegals’, etc., are completely incorrect.

The 2012 UNHCR Guidelines on Detention explain it in plain English:

Every person has the right to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution, serious human rights violations and other serious harm. Seeking asylum is not, therefore, an unlawful act… In exercising the right to seek asylum, asylum-seekers are often forced to arrive at, or enter, a territory without prior authorisation. The position of asylum-seekers may thus differ fundamentally from that of ordinary migrants in that they may not be in a position to comply with the legal formalities for entry. They may, for example, be unable to obtain the necessary documentation in advance of their flight because of their fear of persecution and/or the urgency of their departure. These factors, as well as the fact that asylum-seekers have often experienced traumatic events, need to be taken into account in determining any restrictions on freedom of movement based on irregular entry or presence.” (p.12)

Is Australia obligated to help them?

Yes. Australia has a legal obligation to assist ‘boat people’ whether or not they follow our polite protocol. We signed an international law called the Refugee Convention.

Are most ‘illegal immigrants’ boat people?

No. According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, in 2012-13, 25,091 asylum seekers arrived by boat, more than 8,308 arrived by plane, 2,813 visa overstayers were detected, 2,328 immigration clearances were refused at air and seaports, and 15,077 other ‘unlawful non-citizens were discovered in the community.

Percentage of illegal immigrants boat people

And according to the Advertiser, that doesn’t even include all the illegals who fly in and are caught in the first two weeks. Another 200,000 or so!

Do all asylum seekers arrive by boat?

No. Since 2003, only 42% of all asylum seekers have arrived by boat.

Percentage of asylum seekers who arrived by boat 

In 2012-13, the rate was higher than that due to a spike in boat arrivals:

Percentage of boat people who arrived by boat in 2012-2013 

But as you can see below, the number of boat arrivals tend to go up and down. In other words, history tells us it will go down again after the current spike.

Boat people arrivals since 1975

Are asylum seekers who arrive by boat treated the same as asylum seekers who arrive by plane?

No. Those arriving by plane aren’t detained. Plus, they can immediately apply for a protection visa, and are typically given a bridging visa while their application is processed. Boat people, on the other hand, are immediately moved to a detention centre, and they can’t immediately apply for a protection visa. Instead, they’re screened into a refugee status determination process to determine whether they’ll be allowed to apply.

What does ‘refugee’ mean?

A refugee is a person who has fled their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution (torture, murder, illegal imprisonment, etc.).

Are all ‘boat people’ actually refugees?

9 out of every 10 ‘boat people’ are eventually found to be genuine refugees. They have a genuine reason to fear persecution in their own country (as assessed against the regulations set out in our Migration Act).

According to the Department of Immigration and Border Control, since 2008, 92% of all considered asylum cases relating to people arriving by boat were granted (p.30).

How many asylum seekers are judged refugees

As a graph:

How many boat people are actually refugees

But even if they weren’t, it still wouldn’t change Australia’s legal obligation. We are legally obliged to accept asylum seekers.

Are they ‘jumping the queue’?

No. There’s no such thing as a queue. Anyone who wants to claim asylum must leave their home country first. So all asylum seekers flee to other countries. Some overland, some by plane, some by boat. Some come to Australia, some go to other countries. This is the standard way to seek asylum. These people are called ‘onshore applicants’.

Sadly, a lot of refugees are very, very poor, so their only option is to travel overland to a neighbouring country. That’s why countries like Kenya and Ethiopia have huge refugee camps (because of trouble in neighbouring Somalia).

Sometimes refugees are resettled in a country other than the one they fled to. E.g. Someone might be resettled from a refugee camp to Australia. These people are called ‘offshore applicants’. This is something we voluntarily do to  supplement the standard ‘onshore’ process. Again, resettling refugees from refugee camps is a voluntary act. Australia does it to share the refugee load with other countries. Accepting asylum seekers who come directly to Australia is our legal obligation.

Unfortunately, Australia’s policy is that when we accept an onshore refugee (i.e. an asylum seeker who arrives in Australia by plane or boat), a place is deducted from the offshore program (i.e. there’s one less place for people being moved from refugee camps). No other country in the world does this. In other words, it’s policy that takes places from camp refugees, not ‘boat people’.

Are they still genuine refugees if they can afford boat passage?

Yes. The manner of an asylum seeker’s arrival isn’t what makes them a genuine refugee (or not). They’re judged to be a genuine refugee if they have a well-founded fear of persecution at home.

And although the poor are often the victims of persecution, middle-class and wealthy people are persecuted too. In fact, because these people tend to be well educated, they are often persecuted for speaking out against oppressive government regimes. So just because someone can afford (or scrape together the funds) to make it to Australia, that doesn’t mean they’re not a refugee.

And remember, 92% of boat people since 2009 have been found to be genuine refugees, as assessed against the regulations set out in our Migration Act.

But even if they weren’t, Australia’s legal obligation remains the same. We are legally obliged to accept asylum seekers and process their claims.

Are they still genuine refugees if they don’t look battered, bruised and hungry when they arrive?

Yes. The Refugee Convention doesn’t say they have to look battered, bruised and hungry. It says they have to have a well-founded fear of persecution at home.

Out of interest, here’s a photo of some Jewish refugees who fled to Australia at the end of World War II (courtesy of The Australian). They don’t look particularly battered, bruised and hungry.

Jewish refugees

Are they still genuine refugees if they come via another country (e.g. Indonesia)?

Yes. Although the Refugee Convention says they must come directly from a territory where their life or freedom is threatened (as opposed to ‘skipping through’ a country like Indonesia), the 2001 Geneva Expert Round Table organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees concluded that:

Refugees are not required to have come directly from territories where their life or freedom was threatened…  Article 31(1) was intended to apply, and has been interpreted to apply, to persons who have briefly transited other countries or who are unable to find effective protection in the first country or countries to which they flee.” (p.2, 10b, 10c)

Because Indonesia hasn’t signed the Refugee Convention, they’re not obliged to protect asylum seekers. As a result, asylum seekers who arrive in Indonesia live in constant fear.

Are they still genuine refugees if they don’t just flee to the closest country? Aren’t they cherry-picking?

Yes, they are still genuine refugees. There’s no law that says refugees must flee to the nearest country. In most cases, this would simply land them in a poverty-stricken, dangerous refugee camp for years. Nor is there any rule that says refugees can’t flee by plane or choose their destination.

It seems odd to me that some Australians want to vilify these people for using commonsense and, in the process, reducing the load on the desperately poor countries that are actually being flooded by refugees.

Do they have passports to prove their identity? And do they burn their passports?

People (and the media) often get this confused. Boat people come by boat because they don’t have an Australian visa, and therefore aren’t allowed to fly in to any Australian airport. It’s not necessarily because they don’t have passports. Many do.

So why don’t they all? There are a few reasons:

  • Some just never applied for one. I know I went about 10 years without one, as an adult.
  • Some don’t have any legal rights at home, so they can’t get passports or other documentation like birth certificates, marriage certificates and drivers licences.
  • Then you have to remember that passports are state-issued documents. And when it’s the state that’s persecuting you, it’s not likely it will give you a passport.
  • There are also reports of asylum seekers destroying their documents prior to interception by Australian Navy vessels (although there’s no data on how often this actually happens). There are a number of reasons this could be happening: 1) As asylum seekers, they fear capture at home, so they have to destroy their real passports before they leave their home country; 2) They then use fake documents to leave their home country; and 3) They destroy these documents before arrival in Australia because they’re fake and don’t accurately represent their identity or situation, and would, therefore, impede their asylum case. Also, some people smugglers tell their passengers to burn their passports before arrival, saying it will aid their asylum claim.
  • Some people smugglers confiscate mobile phones and passports before setting sail.
  • Some people smugglers also claim they sell fake passports and visas, which enable asylum seekers to fly into Australia, after which they’re advised to rip up their passports and claim asylum. But these asylum seekers often end up on dangerous boats anyway. No doubt this is another reason some boat people tear up their passports.
  • Some people fear they will be immediately refused entry before they’ve had a chance to declare their asylum request. According to Professor Jane McAdam (Scientia Professor of Law and the Director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW), this is a well-founded fear.
  • And finally, let’s not forget that when you’re fleeing for your life, you don’t always have time to wait for official documentation to be processed (even if it were safe for you to apply for it).

It’s also important to remember that a passport isn’t the only possible form of identity. Most asylum seekers have other forms, like birth certificates, drivers licences, school certificates, letters from local priests and photocopies of identity cards. But these sorts of documents don’t constitute ‘documentation’ according to the immigration department. So these people would still be classified as undocumented.

If they can afford boat passage, why don’t they just fly in?

Flying to Australia would definitely be cheaper and safer, and I’m sure all boat people would do it if they could. But the fact is that they have to get an appropriate visa first, and this isn’t always possible. The Australian embassies in Afghanistan and Iraq, for instance, don’t issue Australian visas. And that’s where 39% of our boat people since 2008 have come from!

What’s more, even when an embassy does issue visas (e.g. Sri Lanka, Iran & Pakistan, where 47% of our boat people have come from since 2008), the application process and requirements for an Australian visa are quite rigorous and time consuming. And if you’re fleeing for your life, you don’t usually have time to complete the application, have your documents certified and wait around for a visa to be approved.

No doubt there are also some boat people who destroy their passports. There are a few reasons this might happen: 1) As asylum seekers, they fear capture at home, so they have to destroy their real passports before they leave their home country; 2) They then use fake documents to leave their home country; and 3) They destroy these documents before arrival in Australia because they’re fake and don’t accurately represent their identity or situation, and would, therefore, impede their asylum case. I’ve also heard that people smugglers tell them to burn them as it will aid their asylum claim.

Do we get more asylum seekers than other countries?

No. In 2012, we ranked 20th overall, 29th per capita and 52nd relative to GDP. And remember approximately half of those people did NOT come by boat.

Do we get more asylum seekers than other countries

Poor countries host vastly more displaced people than wealthier ones. While anti-refugee sentiment is heard loudest in industrialised countries, developing nations host 80 per cent of the world’s refugees.”

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon

And again, no matter what our ranking, we’re still are legally obliged to accept asylum seekers.

Do harsh border protection laws deter ‘boat people’?

No. Certainly turn-backs by the navy stop most boats from getting here. But there’s no evidence to suggest this or any other harsh policies on ‘border protection’ stop boat people trying to get here.

According to the UNHCR, more people have boarded boats since Abbott instituted his harsh ‘deterrence’ policies, not fewer. More than 54,000 people boarded boats in our region in Jan-Nov 2014. That’s 15% more than the same period in 2013. Approx 540 people are estimated to have died attempting the passage in 2014, and hundreds more are alleged to have died in smuggling camps in Thailand. So tell me, again, how is Abbott saving lives at sea?

According to Professor Jane McAdam (Scientia Professor of Law and the Director of the Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW), these real-life statistics are supported by research.

…what we know from the research is that the details of a country’s asylum policy, including deterrence mechanism, have very little influence on an asylum seeker’s choice of destination.”

Here’s a timeline showing when Australia introduced its harsh asylum seeker policies (excluding turn-backs, which don’t deter people from arriving, but physically stop them)…

It’s clear these hard-line policies can’t be claimed as deterrents. In all but 2 cases, the number of boat people increased afterwards. Once it remained unchanged, and once it was already going down before the policy was introduced. So if we’re to believe that Australia’s harsh policy has any significant impact on boat people numbers, we’d have to deduce it’s often an incentive!

Harsh Policies

How many ‘boat people’ resettle in Australia? Won’t we be over-run?

No we won’t be over-run. Not even close! For the 2012-13 period, Australia makes available 190,000 places for immigrants. During the same period, 4,949 ‘boat people’ were granted refugees status in Australia. So refugees who arrive by boat make up just 2.5% of all immigration.

Less than 3 percent of immigrants are refugees who arrived by boat 

Let’s look at it another way. In 2012, only 4,949 boat people were granted refugee status in Australia. That’s one person per 4,718 Australians. You might just be able to see the thin line representing approved boat people in the graph below…

How many boat people resettle in Australia 

Don’t boat people get more social security?

No. Asylum seekers aren’t entitled to the same welfare as citizens and permanent residents. They get Asylum Seeker Assistance (ASA), which covers basic living expenses, at a rate below Centrelink benefits.

Once an asylum seeker’s claim is processed, and they’re judged a refugee, they receive the same amount of social security as a citizen or permanent resident. They “apply for social security through Centrelink like everyone else and are assessed for the different payment options in the same way as everyone else. There are no separate Centrelink allowances that one can receive simply by virtue of being a refugee.” (

Unfortunately, the Australian government doesn’t allow asylum seekers to work. Nor does it allow refugees to work until they become permanent residents (which can take years). If they were allowed to work, the burden on our welfare system would be far less.

Doesn’t it cost a lot to keep asylum seekers detained?

Yes. That’s another reason why we should stop doing it. According to the Parliamentary Budget Office, it costs approx $225,000 to detain a person on Manus Island or Nauru. If they were were allowed to live in the general community (say, in specified rural areas in need of a population injection), it would cost only $35,000.

But aren’t they all Muslims who’ll want us to submit to Sharia law?

No. In 2012-13, only about half (57%) of asylum claims are were from Muslim boat people fleeing countries that follow strict Sharia law. That’s just 1.4% of all our immigrants. And remember, these people are fleeing those Sharia law countries!

Doesn’t Tony Abbott have a mandate to stop the boats?

Arguably. But he does NOT have a mandate to stop them by breaching international law. Some voters definitely agreed with the stop the boats policy, and Abbott won the election on the back of that policy. But he didn’t mention breaching international law during his campaign, so he does not have a mandate to do so.

Abbott decided to breach international law, not voters.

In fact, only 45.6% of Australians actually voted for the Coalition. Yes, they still won the election on preferences, and yes, ‘stop the boats’ was AN election campaign, but there’s a big divide between claiming a mandate on an issue and assuming the majority of Australians support it. And that 45.6% includes people who voted for the Coalition based on other factors, such as hating Rudd, hating Labor, being over Labor’s idiotic back-room bickering, and supporting any one of the LNP’s other policies.

Is Australia breaching international law?

Yes. We’re breaching all of the following (see below list for details):

  • UN Refugee Convention
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
  • International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
  • Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
  • International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR)
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO)
  • Australia’s Criminal Code (Commonwealth)

The UN Refugee Convention

The UN Refugee Convention requires that we must treat refugees at least as well as any other foreigner:

Except where this Convention contains more favourable provisions, a Contracting State shall accord to refugees the same treatment as is accorded to aliens generally” (Article 7, 1)

And that we must not send them anywhere where they’ll be unsafe or imprisoned:

No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.” (Article 33, 1)

Importantly, it also says we must not penalise people who arrive without the appropriate visa or other paperwork:

The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence” (Article 31, 1)

It also says we must not detain them longer than is necessary for their asylum claims to be processed:

The Contracting States shall not apply to the movements of such refugees restrictions other than those which are necessary and such restrictions shall only be applied until their status in the country is regularized or they obtain admission into another country.” (Article 31, 2)

But by locking up asylum seekers in detention centres, we’re not treating them as we do other foreigners. Nor are we detaining them merely for the time necessary to assess their asylum claims. Instead, as a direct penalty for the way they arrived, we’re detaining them indefinitely in order to deter other asylum seekers from coming to Australia by boat. Not only are their movements being restricted, but the conditions of their imprisonment are terrible – another penalty and deterrent.

The UNHCR Guidelines are very clear on this:

Detention must not be arbitrary… Mandatory or automatic detention is arbitrary as it is not based on an examination of the necessity of the detention in the individual case… Detention that is imposed in order to deter future asylum-seekers, or to dissuade those who have commenced their claims from pursuing them is inconsistent with international norms. Furthermore, detention is not permitted as a punitive – for example, criminal – measure or a disciplinary sanction for irregular entry or presence in the country. Apart from constituting a penalty under Article 31 of the 1951 Convention, it may also amount to collective punishment in violation of international human rights law.” (pages 15 – 18)

Also, by pushing/towing asylum seeker boats back to Indonesian waters from Australian waters, we’re once again restricting their movements unnecessarily and penalizing them. We’re also returning them to a place where the lives and freedom of many would be threatened. Many asylum seekers are Shia Muslims who are fleeing persecution by Sunni Muslims in their home country. Indonesia is 88.2% Muslim, and the majority of those Muslims are Sunni. So Shia Muslims face persecution in Indonesia just as they faced at home.

The UNHCR has been very clear on this too, telling Australia, in April 2014, that:

There are obligations as a signatory to the 1951 Convention and the 1967 protocol, which say: if you intercept in your territorial waters, you should allow those in need of protection to have access to the asylum system”

This wasn’t our first warning either. The UN warned Australia about this breach in early January, 2014, too:

UNHCR would be concerned by any policy or practice that involved pushing asylum-seeker boats back at sea without a proper consideration of individual needs for protection… Any such approach would raise significant issues and potentially place Australia in breach of its obligations under the 1951 Refugee Convention and other international law obligations.”

Incidentally, we’re further breaching our responsibilities by changing workplace safety laws to exempt Navy sailors from their obligation to take ‘reasonable care’ to ensure the safety of asylum-seekers. In doing so we’re indirectly penalising asylum seekers.

What’s more, Article 16 of the Refugee Convention also stipulates that asylum seekers must have access to free legal assistance:

A refugee shall enjoy in the Contracting State in which he has his habitual residence the same treatment as a national in matters pertaining to access to the Courts, including legal assistance and exemption from cautio judicatum solvi

(“Cautio judicatum solvi” means payment of security for legal costs.) Sadly, however, our government now denies legal assistance to asylum seekers who arrive by boat.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) says that:

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.” (Emphasis added)

By arbitrarily detaining asylum seekers, we are violating their fundamental human rights.

Other human rights conventions

According to Julian Burnside QC, by “using arbitrary detention for asylum seekers, and subjecting people (including children) to conditions which put their physical and mental health at risk in order to persuade them to return to their homelands, and deter further people from seeking asylum in Australia”, we’re breaching the following international conventions:

What’s more, recently a Sudanese asylum seeker claimed he was deliberately burned by Australian Navy personnel. Yet despite being legally obligated to investigate the matter, the Australian government is investigating the ABC, for reporting the claims! Under the United Nations Convention against Torture, which we voluntarily signed, we agree to “ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.” (Article 12, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment)

We’re also breaching the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 2(2)), under which it is prohibited to detain someone on the basis of “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”.

Australia was also strongly criticised by independent organisation, Human Rights Watch, in its 2014 World Report (p.292):

Successive governments have prioritized domestic politics over Australia’s international legal obligations to protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, many of who have escaped from appalling situations in places like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Too often, the government has attempted to demonize those trying to reach Australia by boat and has insisted that officials refer to all asylum seekers who do so as illegal maritime arrivals.”

Laws of the sea

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires contracting states to:

ensure that necessary arrangements are made for distress communication and co-ordination…”

The 2012 Report of the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers, interprets this to mean “Where assistance has been provided to persons in distress in a state’s SRR, that state has primary responsibility to ensure that coordination and cooperation occurs between governments, so that survivors are disembarked from the assisting ship and delivered to a place of safety. ” But Australian defence personnel are not helping asylum seekers disembark or otherwise reach safety. Instead, they’re leaving them to fend for themselves, hours offshore of Indonesia.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) requires contracting states to:

… promote the establishment, operation and maintenance of an adequate and effective search and rescue service regarding safety on and over the sea and, where circumstances so require, by way of mutual regional arrangements co-operate with neighbouring States for this purpose.”

But Australian defence personnel are not co-operating with Indonesia to ensure the safety of asylum seekers. Instead, they’re leaving them to fend for themselves, hours offshore of Indonesia.

The International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) requires contracting states to:

… ensure that assistance be provided to any person in distress at sea … regardless of the nationality or status of such a person or the circumstances in which that person is found” and to “… provide for their initial medical or other needs, and deliver them to a place of safety.”

But Australian defence personnel are not delivering asylum seekers to a place of safety, they’re leaving them to fend for themselves, hours offshore of Indonesia.

What’s more, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), we’re also breaching:

  • Amendments to the SOLAS and SAR Conventions, which require contracting states to: “… arrange disembarkation as soon as reasonably practicable”; and
  • Guidelines on the Treatment of Persons Rescued at Sea, which state: “The government responsible for the SAR region in which survivors were recovered is responsible for providing a place of safety or ensuring that such a place of safety is provided,” where a ‘place of safety’ is defined as “… a location where rescue operations are considered to terminate, and where: the survivors’ safety or life is no longer threatened; basic human needs (such as food, shelter and medical needs) can be met; and transportation arrangements can be made for the survivors’ next or final destination.”
  • But Australian defence personnel are not arranging disembarkation of asylum seekers, nor providing or ensuring a place of safety, they’re leaving them to fend for themselves, hours offshore of Indonesia.

Australia’s Criminal Code (Commonwealth)

Julian Burnside QC also suggests we may be committing “a crime against humanity contrary to section 268.12 of the Criminal Code (Commonwealth)”:

Article 9 of the Covenant prohibits arbitrary detention, yet people sent to Nauru and Manus Island, by Australia at Australia’s expense, are being arbitrarily detained in disturbing conditions. The refugees without ASIO security clearances are also being arbitrarily detained. This then constitutes a crime against humanity, according to the Criminal Code in section 268.12.”


So here’s what the facts tell us:

  • ‘Boat people’ are not breaking any law, so they’re not ‘illegal’.
  • Australia has a legal obligation under international law to accept asylum seekers.
  • Less than half of all ‘illegal immigrants’ are ‘boat people’.
  • Only about half of all asylum seekers arrive by boat.
  • 92% of ‘boat people’ are genuine refugees; they have a genuine reason to fear persecution in their own country.
  • ‘Boat people’ are not jumping the queue.
  • They’re still genuine refugees if they can afford boat passage.
  • They’re still genuine refugees if they come via Indonesia.
  • 51 other countries get proportionally more asylum seekers than Australia (relative to GDP).
  • ‘Soft’ border protection laws did NOT cause an influx of ‘boat people.
  • Refugees who came by boat make up only 2.5% of all of Australia’s immigrants.
  • Only 1.4% of all our immigrants are Muslim boat people from countries that follow strict Sharia law. And they’re fleeing those Sharia law countries!
  • Abbott does NOT have a mandate to stop the boats by breaching international law.
  • Australia is breaching international law by detaining boat people unnecessarily and turning them away (e.g. sending them to Indonesia).

In other words, ‘boat people’ are a small issue to Australians. They’re not doing anything wrong, and they hardly make a ripple in our overall immigration intake. We only think they’re a big issue is because the government makes them a big issue, and the media happily plays along because it’s a big story.

In reality, the only people to whom the whole ‘boat people’ issue is a big issue are boat people themselves. And, sadly, the smokescreen created by the government is very effectively obscuring that fact.

Why don’t most people know this stuff?

The fact that most people don’t know this stuff is testament to the dishonesty of our politicians and the brainwashing by or media.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s all fact on public record. Look it up. It’s another instance of the government and media distracting voters from real issues by pointing the finger and finding a common enemy.

That’s why the Coalition built its 2013 election campaign on the ‘Stop the Boats’ line. And why they changed the name of the immigration department from “The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship” to “The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection”. And why they even changed the processing label applied to asylum seeker boat arrivals from “Irregular Maritime Arrivals” to “Illegal Maritime Arrivals”.

None of this is accidental.

Am I suggesting we should open our borders up completely?

No. I’m saying we should separate our onshore and offshore refugee quotas, so boat people don’t take places of resettled camp refugees. And we shouldn’t be using ‘population’ issues as an excuse to turn ‘boat people’ away. If there are population issues (which I don’t believe there are), curtail regular immigration. At least then the people being turned away will merely be inconvenienced. They won’t be killed, tortured or wrongfully imprisoned.

What can we do about it?

If you feel strongly about this issue (and any other problems being caused by the Abbott government), make sure you get to your local March in March. In fact, if you can make it, try to get to the march in your capital city and the Canberra march too. They’re bound to be big ones.

Also write to your local politicians and to Abbott and co. Tell them what you think, and demand they stop.

Beyond that, I think we need a Constitutional Convention. And when we get it, we need to change the system to a vote-for-policies system. No politicians, no parties… And tighter regulation on corporations. I’ll be blogging about my thoughts on this soon, so make sure you subscribe to my blog.

What do you think? Please comment…

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Please add a comment below, so we can chat about it.

s, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

on the basis of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, such as asylum-seeker or refugee status.


      • Scott says

        Because misinformation and bigotry are the only reasons that people could hold alternate views to your own.

        You also seem a little sketchy on one of your facts, implying some natural variability in refugee numbers:

        “…the number of boat arrivals tend to go up and down. In other words, history tells us it will go down again after the current spike.”

        Those spikes and falls were hardly the result of a ‘natural’ rise and fall. It fell in 2001 when Howard introduced the Pacific Solution, and started rising again when Labor dismantled it in 2007.

        • Owen Godfrey says

          Scott, what he means is that the conditions in the rest of the world will cause the number of people seeking asylum to rise and fall. At the moment, the conditions in Afghanistan and other parts of the world are making people flee their homes. As any legitimate refugee (95% of the boat people) and they will tell you tat the country they want to liv in is their home country.

        • says

          Hi Scott. Thanks for your comment. Actually, no I didn’t say bigotry and misinformation are the only reasons that people might hold alternate views to my own. But I do believe they’re big reasons.

          As for my facts being sketchy, again, you’re incorrect. The Pacific Solution was reintroduced on 16 August 2012. After its reintroduction, the number of asylum seekers coming by boat actually INCREASED. More than doubled, in fact. From July 2012 to June 2013, a total of 18,119 people who arrived by sea were screened into a refugee status determination process (up from 7,373 the year before). If you want to cite the drop-off from Howard’s introduction of the original Pacific Solution as evidence that his policy worked as a disincentive to boat people, then you must also accept that the reintroduced policy worked as in INCENTIVE.

          • Owen Godfrey says

            Glenn, I am amazed at the effort you go to to address everybody’s concerns and comments. You are doing an awesome job. As for concerns like this one from scott which say that some of your stats are a “little sketchy”, might I suggest that you provide embedded links in the blog to where people can access specific information on your data, or embedded drill down pages that elaborate on the points you make?

            I’d be amazed if you actually did this, as you’ve already done a fine job, and this must be consuming your time quite badly.

          • says

            Hi Owen. Thanks mate. I appreciate that. (And yes, it’s very time consuming.) I’ve just updated the blog post itself with a new graph showing the increase after the reintroduction of the Pacific Solution (and a link to the data). :-)

          • Matt says

            Well, no because the orginal Pacific solution included Temporary Protection Visas, so this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Additionally, an increase could easily be attributed to a response from smuggling operations to the likelihood that sometime soon their business would be going bust.

          • says

            Yes you’re right, Matt, it could be due to either of those variables.

            Or it could be due to any combination of hundreds of other political, economic, social, military or communication variables, both here and overseas. The Australian dollar, our excellent weathering of the GFC, the cost of people smugglers, the cost or quality of boats, cheaper airfares, cheaper sources of false ID, a sudden change in power relations in their home countries, Australia’s livability rating or cost living, the fact that they’re coming from different countries, worse persecution at home, etc.

            Or maybe, as Julian Burnside suggests, it’s simply that Australia is the cheapest to get to (of the countries that have signed the Refugee Convention).

            Or maybe it’s all just pure coincidence.

            The point is that we’re both speculating, because the data isn’t conclusive. I.e. There’s no evidence to suggest ‘pull factors’ are at play.

          • says

            In fact, Matt, when I looked more closely at the figures, this morning, I discovered that the number of boat people arriving was already dropping by the time Howard introduced the temporary visa policy. And the same when he introduced the original Pacific Solution. See the charts in the revised post above.

        • Harry Webb says

          It is all right to talk to us about obligations. But under Labor tax-payers spent nearly $11 billion dollars on asylum seekers. Also it costs about $12 million per boat that lands in Australia. I think that UN public servants make jobs for themselves telling other countries what to do.

          • says

            Hi Harry. Thanks for your comment. Can you please share a source for those figures? I’d like to have a look…

            In any event, the main reason asylum seekers cost as much as they do is that we keep them prison and don’t let them work, for years.

            Well, boat people, anyway. We don’t detain asylum seekers who come by plane. Doesn’t that seem strange?

    • Grayham Taylor says

      It’s not our sailors fault that are turning back offshore refugee they have to follow orders. It’s the government who is lying again like the Tampa and children overboard. You think that Australians would know by now who are the liars. Even their own policies are wrong and so many believe that refugee’s are wrong. Watch this space when Tony gets his own way more Australians will be out of work just so he can save money. Didn’t Tony give money to some bicycle club. I could go on. Gryham

      • says

        Hi Grayham. Thanks for your comment. Yeah, I definitely don’t blame the Navy personnel. All policy as far as I’m concerned. And obviously agree re the lying… :-(

    • Lesley says

      Hi Glen
      Thanks for setting all the stats out in readable and understandable form, I recommend people to watch both series of the SBS documentary “Go back to where you came from,” this showed exactly what people who are driven out of there countries go through. When the subject comes up I always mention this as it highlights what people go through and where they come from. I also had the honour of doing a professional development course with an art therapist who lives and works on Christmas Island, she told us of stories of what these people go through and you wouldn’t wish it on anybody, so many of these people suffer and end up with dreadful mental health problems and it is heart breaking to hear the stories. Maybe Australians can start seeing them for human beings who are in need of our help and support rather than the LNP’s and medias fear mongering.
      Thank you for putting the figures together, and actually showing the reality of the situation. I also think there are many people who have this belief that they are Australia first and that they wont share with other people, its just childish.

      • says

        Hi Lesley. Thanks so much for your comment. I couldn’t agree more. Go Back To Where You Came From was a great doco. Interesting to see a couple of the people who were really opposed to asylum seekers in the beginning, started coming around in the end. :-)

      • David Hill says

        another good doco is “between the devil and the deep blue sea” well worth watching to see how the asylum seekers are treated in Indonesia

    • Lisa Pensabene says

      For some reason I am unable to share your wonderful article. Apparently its invalid

      • says

        Hi Lisa. Strange. The small share icons at the end of the article (before the comments) all work for me. Would you mind trying again?

  1. Clay says

    Great read Glenn. You should consider putting all this into a video format and then onto YouTube. The more people that have access to actual facts instead of misleading headlines the better.

  2. Krupa Ramachandra says

    Everyone should see the bigger picture. Sadly, we are misguided. You should consider making a video or a ppp because most of them have little or no patience to read. Thank you. Keep up the good work.

    • says

      Thanks Krupa. You’re right. I’m considering making something visual out of it… Appreciate your suggestion and support. :-)

      • Jon says

        I agree, (although I read it) I feel some sort of video is needed… maybe a “whiteboard animation”? We need to spread this information!

        Well done and congrats on an informative and clearly written post!

        My only offer of constructive criticism is in regards to one of your first points:

        Are “boat people” doing something illegal?

        The answer to that, as I understand it, isn’t as black and white as “NO”. I am in no way advocating our current and previous governments treatment of these people, and I completely support your post as well, but in the interests of complete accuracy… I believe that while they are (or should be) protected under the 1951 Refugee Convention, their initial arrival by boat is actually illegal under Australian law, furthermore to arrive without a visa is illegal. Of course, once they claim asylum things change (or should change), but as it stands their initial arrival by boat is illegal. The convention simply grants them pardon for their illegal arrival, it doesn’t make their arrival suddenly “legal”, if you get me? The only problem with me saying this is I forget where I read it! I believe it’s even in the wording of the convention? (see below)

        “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence. (Article 31, (1))”

        But I think it’s one of the main reasons journalists can’t effectively go after the government for use of terms like “illegal” and are instead are focusing on the “camps”/”detention centers…

        Perhaps you could shed some light on this? (Again, I am fully behind this post and it’s cause)


        • Owen Godfrey says


          No, their arrival is legal. The only illegal aspect is that of the people smugglers. Under the convention, the asylum seekers have to right to cross borders by whatever means they have available. They become illegal only if the do not present themselves to the government.

          Some people argue that they are also illegal if they don’t go to one of the refugee camps, the so called “queues”. Glenn addresses this point quite eloquently.


        • Andrew says

          Hi Jon

          You can read the immigration act and all other Australian legislation. You won’t find a single law that makes it illegal for someone to arrive in Australia by boat without a visa.

          It is complicated and the politicians play on this. An asylum seeker arriving by boat arrives unlawfully and most don’t understand the significant distinction. Essentially being lawful or unlawful is about the legal rights you have and has nothing to do with illegality.

          The easiest way I have found to explain the difference is this. If you are over a certain age (amongst other factors) you have a lawful entitlement to the the age pension. I am in my 40s work full time so I have no lawful entitlement to the age pension so if I applied for the aged pension I have made an unlawful application. As long as the information is correct I haven’t done anything illegal I just won’t receive the age pension.

          If a person arrives in Australia with a visa they have arrived lawfully and have a right to stay. If a person arrives without a visa they are “unlawful” which means nothing more than the have no lawful right to stay.

          Under the Immigration Act one circumstance where a person who arrives unlawfully can obtain a lawful right to stay is if they have a valid claim for asylum.

          The use of “illegal” in this debate is disingenuous as are terms like “economic refugee” which was a term the Labor party preferred but was equally disingenuous because it was applied at a time when asylum seekers claims had not been processed for many months so no assessment of whether they were validly claiming asylum or whether they were economic migrants could be made.

          Great post Glenn


          • David Hill says

            Article 31: Refugees unlawfully in the country of refuge

            Article 31 of the Refugee Convention prohibits states parties from imposing penalties on refugees who, when coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened, enter or are present in their territory without authorisation, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and can show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.

            This Article recognises that refugees have a lawful right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they hold valid travel or identity documents. As such, what otherwise be considered illegal actions (eg. entering a country without a visa) should not be treated as such if a person is seeking asylum. This means that it is incorrect to refer to asylum seekers who arrive without authorisation as “illegal”, as they in fact have a lawful right to do so if they are seeking asylum.

            Article 31 also prohibits states parties from restricting the freedom of movement of refugees who arrive without authorisation, with the exception of restrictions necessary for regularising their status. Furthermore, such restrictions should be applied only until their status in the country is regularised or they obtain admission into another country.

        • says

          Thanks for your comment Jon. And your replies, Owen and Andrew. I can’t improve on those answers, but I’d like to address your quote from the Convention, Jon:

          “The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees…”

          The use of “illegal” here doesn’t actually make any form of arrival illegal. What it does is define the behaviour required of a member state under the Convention. The legality of various forms of entry is determined by the member state itself. As Andrew said, it’s not illegal for refugees to enter our country. It would only be illegal for them to stay after being ordered to leave.

          • Andy says

            Hi all,

            again I must agree with the rest of the comments here, first time visitor to your blog and very impressed with your thoroughness. I’ve replied to this specific comment though because I must add my weight to the critics on this point alone. I hope we can accept that the ABC isn’t a huge fan of the Liberal party, but even their Media Watch group acknowledges that the term ‘illegal entry’ is valid and correct for those entering Australia by boat without the proper visa..

            The convention that we signed should be basically paraphrased as “Even THOUGH we agree that asylum seekers enter the county illegally, we promise not to pursue any sort of punishment for that, once they identify that they did so to seek asylum”.

            Some good background and context for this is here:

          • says

            Hi Andy. Thanks for your support. Much appreciated. Re the “illegal” issue, no, I believe Media Watch is wrong. Boat people are breaking no laws, therefore they are not arriving illegally, they are arriving unlawfully. There is no law that forbids their arrival or the manner of their arrival.

          • Andrew Evans says

            I reiterate there is no Australian law that makes entering Australia without a visa illegal. Therefore it is not illegal for asylum seekers to arrive here without a visa and therefore every time this government uses that term with respect to asylum seekers they are being disingenuous and inflammatory and frankly they are insulting the nation’s intelligence and integrity.

            Morrison’s justification for using “illegal” because the definition of “illegal entry” in the Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land Sea and Air…(Protocol) is astounding.

            Granted there might be some technical merit to Morrison’s argument that Asylum seekers fit a definition in the Protocol (even though the protocol is not about asylum seekers and there is no connection between the use of “illegal” in this Protocol and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees) but it still doesn’t make their actions in Australia illegal.

            The question should not be whether there is some technical justification for the use of “illegal” the question should be are asylum seekers doing anything illegal under Australian law. The answer is no. The second question then is if asylum seekers are not doing anything illegal under Australian law why does the immigration minister use language that suggest they are when he knows they are not and his only justification for using that terminology is a definition in a U.N. protocol that does not have any bearing on the legality of asylum seekers conduct.

            This is a political party that is preying on prejudice for nothing more than political gain.


  3. says

    Some people see these “boat people” as a threat to security ie terrorists. It would be interesting to see the stats on how many “boat people” are actually deemed a threat to national security. I imagine it’s miniscule.

    • says

      Exactly. In 2012-13, we received 18,119 asylum requests from ‘boat people’. Only around 2 were found to be a security threat by ASIO. So only about 0.01% of boat people are a security threat.

      I say “around” and “about” because I don’t have specific figures on assessment outcomes for ‘boat people’. I deduced this number from the overall statistics provided by ASIO (… They assessed 29,449 people in 2012-13. The vast majority of these assessments were related to normal temporary visas. Only 3,394 (12%) were related to ‘boat people’. Of the total 29,449 assessed, only 18 were judged to be a security threat. That’s just 0.000611226 of all assessments. If we apply that percentage to the 3,394 ‘boat people’ security assessments, we get just 2.07.

      Another way to look at it is to see how many refugees in detention were judged a security threat. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, “As at 6 August 2013 there were 52 refugees in immigration detention facilities in Australia who had been denied a protection visa as a result of receiving an adverse security assessment from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.64 A number of these individuals have been detained for over four years.” (, p.9).

      Unfortunately, this doesn’t give us a clear picture either, as “over four years” could mean 4.5 years, or it could mean 10 years. If we assume it means 4.5 years, then we’re averaging about 12 security threats per year, worst case. Again, 18,119 asylum requests from ‘boat people’ in 2012-13, that’s just 0.07%.

      So it looks to be somewhere in the vicinity of 0.01-0.07% of all ‘boat people’.

      Now, remembering that ‘boat people’ represent only about 2.5% of all our immigrants, that means only about 0.00175% of all our immigrants are ‘boat people’ who are a security threat.

  4. Andrea says

    Thanks. You ve addressed every issue on this humanitarian crisis! Now everyone who cares needs to grab a refugee and introduce him or her to some people who don t understand the reality is far from the propaganda. Let the ignorant MEET A REFUGEE and hear their story of horror beyond most of our imagination! Hear what they love and miss and had to leave behind. Face to face is whats gonna change the community attitude. The story of a refugees life is so sad n so powerful. White privilege is entrenched in this debate. Most white Australians know nothing of suffering.

      • carlos cruz says

        yes, we need to not just look at this from afar , and afar is certainly what the governments have achieved, but we need mr and mrs joe average to come into the spheres of suffering that these people endure at the end of our immigration stick. we need to hear , see and feel some real stories. good job here, its time we got our hands dirty with hard work and not from the blood of innocents. love carlos.

      • Coco Nut-Mamma says

        Thank you for all you are doing, Glenn. Great job indeed!
        I agree with Andrea that something ought to be put together to give people an idea what asylum seekers look like in the broader sense of the word.
        Presently asylum seekers have a bad image. They are demonised by a large part of the community as being “queue jumpers”, “illegal migrants”, “jihadists”, “terrorists”, and more.
        It would be great to make these people “real”.
        I also wonder if it would be possible for people to “adopt” an asylum-seeker/family. Even if it was just sending a postcard or something to show that most of us are actually human and that we do care about what is happening.
        Keep up the great job!

        • says

          Thanks Coco Nut-Mamma. Yeah, the government uses systematic linguistic vilification to ensure we’re all predisposed to (at best) being suspicious of or (at worst) hating asylum seekers. Sending postcards, etc., is an interesting idea. Especially if we could also send information about the sort of discussion that’s happening in society.

    • Caroline says

      Maybe the idea of having refugees tell their stories, so that ordinary Australians have a better idea of what they’ve been through, could be combined with the idea of making this article into a video? I’m thinking the facts & figures could be interspersed with video of people talking about the relevant aspect?

    • Jay Bee says

      Yes let them meet real refugees and hear their stories. Speak to those who have waited 10+ years on Indonesian refugee camps in those supposedly non existent queues. Speak to the kids born into Indonesian refugee camps who have no citizenship of any country until they come here as teenagers.

      People who are suffering and waiting years longer because people with money buy an immediate way to get here at the risk of their own lives and the lives of others.

      Listen to their pain at knowing boat people are causing them and their families to spend much longer in refugee camps.

      • says

        Hi Jay. Thanks for your comment. I agree completely that the plight of those in any refugee camp is tragic. But that doesn’t make the concept of a queue any more accurate.

        Refugees in camps are not given a place in line and told to wait for their number to be called. It doesn’t work like that. Each asylum application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. I may have been waiting in a camp with my family for 10 years, but if someone arrived yesterday, and their case is judged more deserving of asylum, they’d be awarded a resettlement before me.

        That said, as discussed in my post, it’s certainly true that each time an onshore applicant (aka boat person) is awarded refugee status in Australia, there’s one fewer place for offshore applicants (whether they’ve been waiting in a camp 10 years or 1 day). But as also explained in the post, this is because the Australian government numerically links our offshore and onshore intake quotas. No other government in the world does this.

        In other words, it’s only Australia’s policy to take places away from offshore refugees. It has nothing to do with boat people. They’re just doing exactly what they have a legal right to do: Seek protection from persecution. What’s more, they’re following the standard process for applying for asylum: Onshore application.

        They just happen to have enough money to make it to Australia to apply for asylum. Those in refugee camps don’t. They’re both following the same process, just applying for asylum from different countries.

        There’s no reason for Australia to deny any offshore applicant a place simply because an onshore applicant is granted a place. That’s just red tape causing trauma for thousands.

        I agree this is wrong, just as it would be wrong to turn away a refugee simply because they were able to scrape together the funds to make it here. I’d like the government to de-link the two quotas, like every other government in the world.

  5. Darryn says

    Well thought through, well constructed and well presented. I salute you, sir.

    Now, if we could just get some common sense on sharks and cattle, we’d have all three areas of our atrocious maritime behaviour addressed!

    • says

      It sometimes seems like a long haul, doesn’t it Darryn? Thanks for your kind words. Hopefully I/we will be able to use it to actually achieve something. :-)

  6. Holly says

    Thanks for compiling it all in an easy to read format! Unfortunately I can’t force the ignorant masses to read it. I just wish there was a way I could ram this down the throat of the very people I’m so sick of arguing with. No matter what facts or figures I use, they just stick their fingers in their ears and stamp their feet while chanting ‘illegal’. Apparently many Australians are devoid of not only logic and reason, but also compassion and kindness.

    • says

      It’s bizarre, isn’t it, Holly? Most people I speak to in real life are just so set in their opinions that they simply don’t respond AT ALL to evidence. They just pause, look at me with eyes glazed over, then say, “But what about…” or “But I knew this woman who knew a Muslim…” or “But…” Eventually, after I’ve responded to every objection with a rational, evidence-based answer, they falter to a stop, and we just kinda stare at each other in silence. Then they go off to bitch and moan to someone else about those bloody boat people jumping the queue. :-(

      • Holly says

        One of the most frustrating things is the dehumanization of ‘illegals’. I really believe a lot of people would change their views if they personally knew these people and their stories of fear and persecution, rather than just faceless brown people ‘invading’. I was lucky enough to work with teenage asylum seekers in a detention center and I can honestly say it gave me a totally different perspective on life and now I understand how lucky I am to grow up in Australia (despite our current fascist government) and am driven to push for fairness and equality here.

        • says

          Andrea commented above suggesting everyone needs to meet a refugee. I’d love to see this happen. Let me know if you can think of a way to get the ball rolling.

  7. Bri-Oni says

    Thank you for stating so coherently and decisively what I have been saying to certain of my friends and family all along. With your permission I am going to copy this, print it out and deliver it to all those I know that still believe the coalitions lies (though I am wearing them down).

  8. Denise says

    Thank you for clearing up so many misconceptions. I’m more appaled than ever with this Govt!

  9. Denise says

    Thank you for clearing up so many misconceptions. I’m more appalled than ever with this Govt!

  10. anon says

    Very informative read. With quite a few years doing boarder protection i can say i personally have never seen a passport burned. HOWEVER i have seen passports torn up and thrown into the water as boarder protection vessels do investigative boardings. whether this is something they are told to do by the smugglers i don’t know as some say it is and some just don’t say anything at all.

  11. peter says

    Very informative read. ‘

    With quite a few years doing boarder protection i can say i personally have never seen a passport burned.

    HOWEVER i have seen passports torn up and thrown into the water as boarder protection vessels do investigative boardings. whether this is something they are told to do by the smugglers i don’t know as some say it is and some just don’t say anything at all.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Peter. Good to hear from someone ‘on the ground’. It’s possible they’re also destroying fake passports that they needed to get out of their home country…

  12. says

    Any chance someone could tell me where on Facebook you found my post? For the last 12 hours or more, I’ve had 8-20 people reading it at once, every time I look at my web stats. It’s not the sort of subject matter that would usually go viral (or even semi-viral). Not from an unknown like me, anyway. So I suspect someone influential has posted it, and I’d like to thank them.

    • Michael Croft says

      Hi Glenn,

      I saw it on the March in March fb site, suspect that is the fb site you seek.
      Well said btw

    • Mike says

      I found this link on FB via theantibogan @ wordpress.

      A really, really excellent piece by the way. I find it frustrating that you can throw as many facts at people as possible, and they simply repeat some meaningless slogan like it’s real data.

      • says

        Thanks Mike. Appreciate the heads-up. I just thanked them. :-) Thanks also for your support. I try to stay patient and understanding, but sometimes it can seem a bit disheartening to hear the same old catch-cries, again and again. Feedback like this definitely helps. :-)

  13. Kirsty says

    Very good article. I agree wholeheartedly. However, the issue of safety and boats was not talked about. I am passionate about accepting the asylum seekers and stopping our cruel detention practices, which are creating more short and long term burdens for our nation and the individuals concerned. However, we must not accept that deaths at sea on route are an acceptable risk these people are taking. This is a small problem on global level of deaths on route to asylum, but it is on our door step and that issue does need attention and action.

    • says

      You’re right, Kristy, I haven’t addressed it here. Perhaps another post… There are a lot more grey areas in that subject matter (which is saying something, considering the legal grey areas in this one!). I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to email me at glenn at glennmurray dot com dot au. :-)

      • Mike says

        I can’t help but feel that safety is being used as a smokescreen, as is ‘war’ on people smugglers. There are far better and likely cheaper ways of ensuring refugee safety, and better ways of prosecuting people smugglers. In any event, if Australia is so concerned about the safety of refugees and their exploitation by people smugglers, then why do we punish refugees so harshly? As a deterrent? Does that ‘deterrent’ need to be laid on the shoulders of people who actually made it this far?

        I think our government has used that as a cheap and nasty justification. Something just friendly enough to capture popular interest and just vague enough to be used to justify cruel and unusual punishment.

          • Owen Godfrey says

            I don’t think its a smoke screen. The fact is that this policy enjoys popular support, and with so many other problems, it useful for Tony Abbott to push an agenda that generates more good feeling towards him. Think about it; if Tony Abbott were to back down today and adopt a more humanitarian policy, how long do you think he’d remain in power? So, he continues to push the hard-line just as far as it will go.

          • says

            I think you’re right about the popular support. But my point is that he (the Government) is deliberately withholding facts and misleading the public in order to maintain that public support. He’s doing this because we then jump up and down, and end up in debates like those occurring here. THIS is the smokescreen they’re trying to create. While we’re debating, they’re busy planning the TPP and its resulting disasters (like this: That’s their real agenda, I believe.

            As the great Noam Chomsky once said:

            “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

          • Kezza says

            I also believe it’s a smokescreen. It seems hypocritical that the same people who “care” so deeply about lives potentially lost at sea have wittingly allowed people to drown, so that they can demonise, criminalise and detain them so that they can rot for years or commit suicide in camps that we know to be cruel and inhumane. This is done, apparently, to protect them from themselves and to deter others. A humane “solution” it is not. As you say it costs Australian taxpayers far more to transport and to keep people in detention than to allow them to live in our community and contribute their skills.
            It is this country’s shame. Everyone should read “Dark Victory” by David Marr and Marianne Wilkinson to fully understand current policy and to understand why Abbott and Morrison promote, maintain and show pride in carrying out such cruel practices.
            I struggle to believe that the majority of Australians favour “Border Protection”, I’m not sure that the policy is so popular but believe (and hope) that the LNP won government because of a whole lot of other factors since the ALP’s policy was virtually the same.
            Thank you for putting up this sane and rational blog, Glen. Also worth a look are articles published by Julian Burnside QC, Malcolm Fraser (re. his departure from the LNP) and Paul Keating.

            “Not in my name”

          • says

            Couldn’t agree more, Kezza. Thanks for your comment. I’ll check that book out now. (And yes, I’ve read quite a bit by Julian Burnside, and even corresponded with him. I’ve read a little bit by Malcolm Fraser, but nothing by Paul Keating. Keating was responsible for some pretty bad ‘deterrents’ himself… :-\

  14. Chris says

    Thanks for providing links there so people don’t just have to take your word. You summed it up well, and the only problem is that the people who need to understand this aren’t going to read it because it goes against what they want to believe. Which is hardly your fault.

    Our country has stooped to committing human rights abuses, and until this is fixed, we should be ashamed.

    • says

      It’s a bit of a quandary, isn’t it, Chris. We can but try. One of the previous commenters printed 200 copies of this post and letter-box dropped them. That was very cool. :-)

  15. Bri-Oni says

    I have printed out and made two hundred little booklets of your stats and my son is in the process of posting them around this area. (where a lot of friends and acquaintances live)

    I have copy and pasted and emailed it to friends in the UK, Ireland and America and finally posted a link and share on my FB page.

    Doing my bit to help bring this to the publics notice, sorry it’s not more


  16. Will says

    Thanks for writing this article. I knew most of what you posted but your article is fact based and it turns Australia in to the ‘illegal’/’criminal’. Sadly we have a PM who is hell bent on even shutting down fact based journalism like the ABC’s Fact Check. The online blogs seem to be all we have to really get the word out.

    Anyway, thanks for the article.

    • says

      It’s getting a little scary, isn’t it? I mean, it’s a lot scary for refugees, but it’s even getting a little scary for the rest of us who were lucky enough to have been born here.

  17. Sharon Williams says

    If only our Australian pensioners were afforded the same luxuries …. perhaps there were be an even playing field and less resentment

    • Heath says

      I am also interested in these “luxuries”. Considering pension payments from, the government, are almost double what a refugee would expect to get (or any other job seeker etc for that matter). I work for centrelink, the only “special” treatment refugees get, if you could even call it that, is the waiving of the newly arrived residents waiting period. Which is 104 weeks. Considering they may have spent years in a detention centre, I think that’s fair enough.

  18. George says

    It’s great to see so much statistics in one place!

    However it’s quite one-sided.
    I don’t think it’s fair comparing asylum seekers (who take money from the government in form of asylum seeker assistance) to citizens of US/UK staying in Australia (who contribute a lot of money in terms of taxes/etc).

    There are two pieces of statistics I believe Australian people should be entitled to see before deciding how many asylum seekers should be allowed into the country (and it always has to be a limited number, since country resources are not infinite):

    1. Proportion of crime committed by asylum seekers. Given the politically correct climate I don’t think it will be ever released, but at least it can be compared to the other countries — e.g. in the police report released in Oslo, Norway ( 35% of all rapes are committed by people of African/Middle Eastern origin while they comprise only 1.5% of the population.

    2. The average amount it “costs” a country to host one asylum seeker = government benefits – taxes paid by the said individual.
    It will be worth comparing #2 to the amount contributed by a skilled migrant before jumping to conclusions (we admit X skilled migrants therefore we can admit more refuges!)

    Also all articles promoting higher refugee intake always cite their small number as a reason why Australia should take more. Well of course there is a small proportion if they are hosted in detention centers and not treated with open arms! Surely the proportion would change if everyone arriving would be immediately settled into the community?

    I fail to understand the argument about other countries accepting more refugees. Other countries accept more refugees — so what? It might be a wise choice. It might be not.
    For instance I believe that recent riots in London and the ongoing car-burning in France shows that it is a terrible choice.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, George. Actually, it is a fair comparison, because if Australia was abiding by its international legal obligations, asylum seekers wouldn’t be taking all that money from the government. If we let them live and work in the community, just as we do the other 95% of unlawful entries who are actually illegal, they’d be able to contribute to our society and economy too.

      Re % of crime committed by asylum seekers, the police report you linked to isn’t about refugees.

      Re costs, as mentioned already, the only reason the cost is so high is that we deny asylum seekers and refugees the right to work. And many ‘boat people’ are skilled.

      There’s no evidence to suggest that ‘soft border protection laws’ encourages ‘boat people’ to come to Australia. As illustrated above, the number of asylum seekers we get in Australia is a reflection of global movements in refugees, not our policy.

      I mention how many asylum seekers other countries get only because many people wrongly assume we get a lot.

      Re the London riots, if you have verifiable evidence that refugees were involved in this, I’d be happy to discuss.

  19. says

    Thank you Steve this is vital information. And to think all this deliberate decepiton by politicians is so they can get the vote of racist bigans in marginal seats. That makes dedicated Christians like Abbott, Rudd, Morrison, and that includes most of the Liberal Party who allow it to happen, the unrprincipled liars and hypocrites.

  20. Gandah Manilah says

    Let’s say all the contentions above is correct, how can the government afford to finance their daily subsistence; giving them allowances weekly, food, housing, clothing, school, medicals when Australia has accumulated huge debts during the 6 year term of Labor? Even the poor Australian people themselves could hardly survive? Are we aiming to be another Africa in the making? Over populated by these asylum seekers who would even want to overshadow and replace our own culture?.This issue of asylum seekers must be lengthily studied. I believe in taking care of myself first before others or else how can i be of effective help to anyone?……..Adecaparas Manilah aka Gandah Manilah

  21. Sadbuttrue says

    I do agree with you on the fact that there are many deserving people whose lives are threatened or in danger, but unfortunately some countries put people on boats as a business now! These include wealthy politicians who demand alot of money to pack hundreds of people into small boats so they could live flashy lives :(

    • says

      Yes, this is unfortunate, but do two wrongs make a right? Why should genuine refugees pay for the crimes of people smugglers?

  22. EllJay says

    What a biased, one sided view. You haven’t convinced me that the vast majority of the fifty thousand “country shoppers” who landed on our shores during the disaster years of the Rudd/Giilard were genuine refugees. Too many of them were beefed-up Iranian army deserters.
    Once people destroy their papers, they do, in fact, become illegal immigrants. That’s according to our own immigration laws.
    In any case, you don’t speak for the majority of Australians who are concerned about the growing, and very real, threat of Islam to our civilization. Your flippant comment about them fleeing the countries where strict sharia laws are in place, is simplistic and naive.
    Perhaps, you should study the motives of the Muslims who are flooding here. They have openly admitted they want to take over the world, and will stop at nothing to achieve that end. They have no intention of assimilating in our society.
    You only have to look at England, France, Norway, and a lot of other European countries to know the mass influx of these so-called “refugees” has been a dreadful failure of epic proportions. Horrific rapes and assaults are out of control. Have you even taken the time to look at the stats from those countries?
    But, I hear you say, not all refugees are Muslims. No, they’re not. But there are enough who are to cause real concern.
    I can hear all the comments from you and your bleeding heart followers before I even post this, but this is my country too, and my opinion won’t be swayed by a few naive, feel-good posts from people who have never taken the time to study the negative effects of indiscriminate immigration. Multiculturalism does not work.

      • Ben says

        That is a very interesting comment. The closing remark makes it clear what the poster’s real problem is: multiculturalism.

        This might be typical of people who are anti boat people. Maybe some are simply anti immigration, and refugees are the easiest targets.

        • carlos cruz says

          yes multiculturalism has been held up as the cause of all ills. I have many brothers and sisters from Nepal, Chad, Rwanda, The Philippines, America and Bhutan. They are a blessing in many ways. Its the middle class, small minded self centered, self serving Australian that I have had my problems with. Is there but one God and did he not create all ? Freedom of information, proper education and that is, instilling and promoting the curiosity for learning and not this child minding system dressed as an endless ladder of memory tests we subject our children to and assimilation and appreciation of each others culture and values, by experience would serve our future better than this patriotic shit the politician are shoveling.
          Patriotism just another word for prejudice.

    • Andrew says

      Hi Elljay could you please refer me to the legislation that makes it illegal to destroy papers before entering the country?

  23. stevo says

    Well what a load of Lefty/socialist rubbish, the illegals trying to get in the back door are just that ILLEGALS attempting to enter OUR country without documentation and using false documents to transit other countries shows they are willing to break the law. This is OUR COUNTRY AND OUR LAWS WILL DECIDE WHO COMES HERE,NOT THE ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT U N. I advise every one to check out MICHEALSMITHNEWS.COM to get a real picture of the so called refugees. As the other countries that have allowed access to these people now realise that it was a huge mistake, we should heed there warnings and stop all immigration from the muslim nations . One only has to watch or read the news everyday to see the evidence, nearly all the violent crime happening in our cities have middle eastern muslim connections ,just read the names. Glen I would guess is either a member of the loony Greens and probably get up, both irrelevant parasites who represent the totally delusional left. T ABBOTT WON THE ELECTION ON HIS STRONG BORDER PROTECTION POLICIES AND HAS ALMOST STOPPED THE FLOOD OF THESE ILLEGALS ,and yet still the socialist bleat. Glen get this through your lefty head ,THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF AUSTRALIANS DO NOT WANT THESE PEOPLE IN OUR COUNTRY ,so stop pedaling your socialist propaganda ,and if you dont like the majorities view of Australia try moving to the Middle East and living with their insane laws and culture. WE DONT WANT THEM HERE.

    • says

      Hi Stevo. If you have any verifiable evidence to support your claims, I’d be happy to discuss it. I respect your opinion, but I don’t have time to debate it.

    • Bridie Jenner says

      Firstly, there’s a difference between “illegal immigrants” and “asylum seekers”, but it seems the so-called media here in Australia can’t work that one out. Secondly, the first Europeans to arrive in Australia came by boat, so technically were boat people.

      My main concern with the arrival of asylum seekers is whether they’ll be given enough support. After all, they’re travelling from war torn countries and have often seen/been the victim of horrific violence, witness to murders/torture, etc. It worries me that they would simply be transported to a town or city (rural or otherwise) and left to get on with it, with no assistance to help them through the traumatic experiences they’ve been through.

      • Virginia says

        Im sorry, you seem to be very misinformed regarding the first peoples coming to Australia. These people were stolen from their homes brought here under the most inhuman conditions to build the foundations of this country. To then have their next 3 to 4 generations made by law to fight for this country. Those who came here after WW11 have no understanding of how this affected those families who still struggle today and are disadvantaged due to our history. Only those who willing came here by boat seem to use the boat slogan as a justification that everybody should be allowed here. This slogan undermines those who have scarified to make this country a great country and a disgusting show of disrespect to those who gave you a safe home and the ability to live in peace…..SHAME ON YOU and those who keep using this slogan.

        • says

          Hi Virginia, thanks for your comment. I’m sure Bridie didn’t mean any offence. She’s simply pointing out that white Australians are relatively new arrivals to this land, and that it’s somewhat ironic that we, too, arrived by boats. The point is that we posed (and proved to be) a far bigger threat to the native inhabitants of this land than today’s refugees are.

  24. ann beatty says

    This is what I have been waiting for! Thankyou for such comprehensive information. Especially the refrence to socoal security payments etc. I’m sick of some media commentators and their talk back audiences complaining about refugees getting so many more benefits compared to Australian citizens. This swhle article should be published in every newspaper and magazine in the country. People need to madeaware of the truth! Thank you again.

  25. Bri-Oni says

    I am sorry, but I cannot and will not stand by and listen (you know what I mean) to people denigrate the profoundly truthful and very well researched article that you wrote. He is just spouting MSM propaganda and lies. The site he suggested you look up, I did. It is just a news site and the link to Asylum Seekers are just pictures of the Christmas Island carnage in 2010, advertisements for workers for Refugees, counsellors etc. and links to online news It is a news site, nothing more and the news stations that are linked to it are channels 7 and 9……need I say more?

    Stevo obviously believes what Abbott and Morrison say. He states that the boats have almost stopped, but neglects to say it is the NEWS of the boats has been stopped. He makes no mention of the almost warlike footing the Indonesia is on and the fact that Abbott and Morrison do not seem to regard Indonesian borders sovereign, just Australia’s. He also neglects to say that Abbott does not have a mandate for this as he does not have control of both Upper and Lower House.

    I looked up some of the links you posted, and again, with your permission I would like to copy and print them and give them to the people who I gave the main article too. They have been asking me a lot of questions and I have directed them to you site. Quite a few seem to think that maybe they were wrong and would like more information. Two of them, liberal voters both, think that maybe, just maybe, I was right and they were wrong.

    I think you handled Stevo and others of his ilk with aplomb and good manners. Keep up the good work. The more we can get it out there, the harder it will be for Abbott and CO to keep us in the dark



    • says

      Bri, thanks for your support. I appreciate it. Really. But don’t worry too much. I draw the line when I see it’s not going to be a rational, evidence-based conversation.

      On a more positive note, however, it’s so good to see the facts actually make a difference. Thanks for reporting back with that. Makes it all worthwhile. For me, at least. Not for the asylum seekers… :-(

  26. Lynda Kramer says

    This is a fantastic overview! I agree on the whole youtube presentation…or a couple, aimed at different audiences. The youth are the ones who disemminate information. Someone will sponser it. Australia is not full of racists….

    • says

      Thanks Lynda. :-) I’d love to do a video presentation of it. It’s as much time constraints as financial stopping me, though. :-(

  27. says

    Freaking awesome. Thanks for dispelling the koolaid. I am more sensitive to brainwashing than most. I was in a cult. And now I see mind control everywhere :) it’s good to know there’s another person out there with similar discernment.

    I have personally been blessed enough to meet a few of these “boat people”. A group of people at my church are part of a ministry that visits them regularly and brings them practical items like clothes and toiletries. One guy had just gotten out of Villawood who I met, and I felt so bad for him. The first thing I could bring myself to say was sorry, sorry that he had to go through that, and sorry that this was his welcome to our country. He was in there for three years. Three years isn’t an uncommon time frame. By then, they are worn down mentally and emotionally, having been imprisoned, lost their ability to function and be independent in the real world, and unable to work for a long time as you said, so even when they are out they can’t even feel useful then.

    Keep up the good work :)


  28. Sheree says

    What a great, clear and concise article. These are the facts that people need to know. I will be sharing your article to do my bit in educating the ignorant

  29. says

    Dear Glenn,

    Thank you for taking the time out to write out this beautifully presented uncluttered and concise article on the wrong thoughts around Boat people. This is just what I’m after. I will share it as far as I can. Everything that I’ve felt you have put into words. It is so wonderful to see the truth shining through the cracks more and more! Isn’t it crazy that Australia is getting away with this? I hope that the other governments step in shortly when they realize what Australia has been up to. But corruption is another rather grand factor in all of this too. Thank you so much once again!! xx

    • says

      Thanks Natalie. Sadly I think many other ‘developed world’ governments are behaving in similar ways. It’s up to us to stop it. And then we need to call for a constitutional convention to change our entire system of government, so the corruption, corporate dominance and willful media disinformation actually stop.

  30. Karen says

    That’s all good & well. When do we say enough us enough!! I have first hand feedback & believe me MOST I say MOST are people we DO NOT want in our country. They are rude nasty people that have records. We give give give with NO thanks! What about our own people! They don’t get half the help these so called “asylum seekers ” get. Why don’t we ALL claim asylum!

    • says

      Hi Karen, thanks for commenting. If you have verifiable evidence of any of your claims, please feel free to share.

      As for the extra ‘help’ you claim asylum seekers receive, over and above what Australians receive, I think you may have some facts wrong…

      Asylum seekers who arrive by boat are imprisoned, unnecessarily, for years. Some for longer than 4 years. And when they’re judged to be genuine refugees, as the vast majority are, they’re released, but they aren’t allowed to work. (Incidentally, in the meantime, they’re paid the same social security payments as anyone else.) They’re only allowed to work after they’re awarded permanent residency, which can take years more.

      Of course, by then, many/most are suffering emotionally, after being persecuted (perhaps tortured) in their home country, then being imprisoned needlessly years.

      And when they are finally allowed to work, they face discrimination in the workplace, and their qualifications aren’t recognised. I can show you the research on this if you like?

      I’m baffled as to how you can you think this is better treatment than Australians receive. Are the majority of Australians persecuted by their government or fellow citizens? No. Are they tortured, beaten and wrongfully imprisoned home? No. Do they have to flee their country and leave everything and everyone they love? No. Do they risk their lives and those of their family to make a treacherous journey to safety in a dodgy fishing boat? No. Are they imprisoned when they’ve broken no law? No. Are they denied the right to work? No. Do they face discrimination in the workplace and vilification by the Australian government, media and most off the Australian population? No.

      I know I’d never want to trade places with them. Are you sure you want to?

      And how much is enough? It’s not even relevant. Have another read of the statistics in my post. Boat people represent a drop in the ocean compared to our entire immigration intake. If you’d like to stop unlawful entry, why not start with the hundreds of thousands who arrive by plane and simply overstay their visa? Who’ll simply be inconvenienced if sent home.

      • Joe says

        Glenn, I am intrigued that when Stevo and Karen make statements that you disagree with (obviously) they are asked to provide “verifiable evidence”, yet when Bri-Oni refers to “the almost warlike footing that Indonesia is on” this is your response:

        “Bri, thanks for your support. I appreciate it. Really. But don’t worry too much. I draw the line when I see it’s not going to be a rational, evidence-based conversation.”

        You really don’t think it is far from rational to describe Indonesia as being almost on a war footing, seriously?. And where is the evidence you demand from others? This mindless group think is what has got the left so off-side with mainstream Australia on this issue.

        • says

          Hi Joe. I didn’t ask Bri for evidence because I knew she was talking about this:

          ‘Air Force chief spokesman Air Commodore Hadi Tjahjanto has said there are military planes that can reach Australia within an hour if it happens again.

          “We are watching four radars in Timika, Merauke [in Papua], Saumlaki [Maluku] and Buraen [East Nusa Tenggara], which all face Australia,” he said.

          “If we notice any border violations, our air base in Makassar will be ready. Australia is reachable from there.” ‘

          Sounds pretty warlike to me. And definitely not evidence of “mindless group think”.

          • Kezza says

            Since your reply was posted on 2/2/14 The Age published an article, “Witness Details Burns Claims”p1,6-7, ( 7/2/14) regarding claims made by the asylum seeker/interpreter/eyewitness to the deliberate burning of Asylum seekers hands, and other assaults by Australian navy personnel on Jan 3/14 while their boat was being towed back to Indonesia.
            Michael Bachelard (The Age’s Indonesian Correspondent) points out that while the Abbott government has robustly denied the alleged assaults, has vilified the ABC for treachery and anti-Australianism and questioned their funding. But has made no attempt to properly investigate the veracity, or otherwise, of the claims.
            When Michael Bachelard took the trouble to interview the eyewitness, Yousif Ibrahim Fasher, he found a very credible witness who gave a clear account of events.
            Fasher, courageously, has spoken out, because he believes he and his wife (who was also burned after falling on the hot pipe when pushed by Aus sailors) will now never have a chance of entering Australia. The actual victims are too afraid to be identified.
            Fasher claims that 2 people were roughly handled and 3 deliberately burned for wanting to use the toilet, which seems a reasonable request by anyone.
            Fasher and other named asylum seekers made further claims that the Australian ships entered Indonesian waters (within 7.5 nautical miles of Rote Is.) with lights out to release their AS boats. It seems clear that the Australian Navy has breached International maritime law (traveling with lights out) and did so to secretly breach the 12 nautical mile limit of Indonesian territory.
            Of course there will be Indonesian politicians, public servants, citizens and naval and military officials who would be offended by these actions and of course Indonesia will be watching very closely for border incursions.
            For our government to take such actions and pretend otherwise is foolhardy and very, very dangerous. There are many in Indonesia who do take exception to the Abbott Australian government policies and activities and no amount of denial by Abbott, Bishop or Morrison will make a difference. Indonesians are not as easily fooled by Australian rhetoric as are Australians.

  31. Susanne says

    Thanks for the clarification Glen. I still feel the exploitation of these poor people seeking refuge by the human boat traffickers is ethically wrong and agree that be stopped. Why cant Australia send “pop up” visa squads to the front lines of where the real refugees are and process them there, that way they are not in transit thru another country being exploited and put in further danger with those terrible boats. Just a thought… How about we think out side of the right and wrong boxes and look at practical ways Australia can help the genuinely suffering people. We have the best country in the world, free, safe, clean, and plenty of room to share. So much racism of the past has dissipated once the new cultures settle and integrate eg Greeks, Vietnamese, English 😉

    • says

      Hi Susanne, thanks for commenting. I think the real issue here is that the government isn’t really interested in the welfare of asylum seekers, they’re only interested in using them as political pawns. By beating up this storm in a teacup, they deflect attention from their hush-hush TPP negotiations that will result in lower wages for the poor, law suits against Australia paid by our tax dollars, and internet censorship. Or their planned amnesty for massive tax cheats. (Look this stuff up; its very scary.) So long as we, the people, are arguing about asylum seekers, we’re not stopping them from doing the things they really want to do. I.e. Pander to the corporations and mega-rich.

  32. Joe says

    In your summary you say that “As at October 31, 2013, there were 6,401 people in immigration detention centres”. When I clicked on the link the chart clearly shows the number of people in immigration detention who arrived unlawfully by boat as at 31 October 2013 was 9143???

    Why neglect to state that there are also 22873(!!!) IMAs on bridging visas and a further 1728 in off-shore processing centres? The numbers start to look pretty bad when you add them all up, eh?

    In your summary you state “At the moment, about half (56%) arrive by boat (labelled “IMA” below)” yet the table you refer to shows that in 2012/13 18,119 arrived by boat (IMA) out of 26427 in total. This actually means that “at the moment” 68% (not 56%) arrive by boat??? Using numbers since 2009 as representative of “at the moment” is a little disingenuous at best.

    In your summary you claim that 92% of arrivals are found to be refugees. In fact, while 18119 IMA arrived in 2012/13 only 4949 were granted Protection Visas during the same period. The remainder, I assume had not had decisions finalised.

    Finally – what is your explanation as to why these asylum seekers seem to have all the appropriate paperwork to travel either by land across multiple borders or by air to Indonesia, yet somehow they all lose their ID papers between Jakarta and Christmas Island. Just wondering? Surely the easiest way to prove you are a refugee is to have ID to prove it?

    • says

      Thanks for taking the time to examine the figures, Joe. Great to see! :-) I’ll answer your first few questions tomorrow, as I’ll have to look at the figures, and my wife will shoot me if I go down to the office. 😉

      Re the rate of approvals, I calculated it from the department’s figures, as published in the 2012-13 report. It’s important to note here that you can’t calculate approval rate using approvals/arrivals, because not all applications are submitted and decided in the same year as arrival. You have to use approvals / applications.

      Re the paperwork question, I’ve answered that in my post…

    • says

      Hi again Joe. You were right, I’d screwed up the figures for % of ‘illegal immigrants’ who are boat people. Fixed now.

      Re the % of asylum seekers who are boat people, I originally chose 2009 as the start date for my comparison because that’s when the current spike of arrivals started. However, I take your point, and I’ve now updated this graph too.

      Thanks again for taking the time to examine the figures. I wish more people would, and then I’m sure far less fuss about this issue.

  33. Andrew says

    Mate, I just feel we need to be taking people from similar countries to our own, christian values or people from Greece, Italy, countries where they will fit in easier with our way of life. I have worked in employment services and worked with these people and they are alien to our way of life. Call me heartless, call me a right wing nut, but I say no. I do worry about what we are seeing in France and the UK with elements of the Islamic population there and even in certain elements of Australia. I went to sydney for a conference a few yearS back and arrived on a Sunday. There were Lebanese kids and teens everywhere, and I have never before in my life walked my own streets feeling like I did when I was deployed overseas years ago with the army on a peacemaking mission. I was being stared down by every group I approached, they were sizing me up (I’m 6ft 4in, 100kg), a big bloke, and every group from young teens to older teens would size me up and stare even after I had passed them by. I ended up going back to my hotel room and not going out again. I’m sorry, but I just don’t trust them and think that their own regions should be doing more. What you fail to address is the overwhelming issue of these people. I served in Somalia. These people are not like us, they hate each other almost as much as they hate us! We would go from village to village and they where all attacking each other, raping and killing. Their treatment of women appalled us, that was the hardest issue to overlook, which we had to by the rules set in place for us. If we let them in, we need to keep them on strict conditions, any illegal activity, immediate deportation, including anti-australian rhetoric.

    I suggest those who wish to “dine with a refugee” volunteer with an agency in these countries and see how they really are.

    Why is it only the boat people who are receiving so much attention. Why aren’t people talking about the refugee camps in neighbouring countries to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq and so on? This issue is all about politics and nothing more to most people, a chance to shoot either Labor or LNP down for their failings/achievements on a well publicised and contentious issue.

    I don’t care about where we rank on charts showing per capita intakes and expenditure, I only care about what is happening in our backyard.

    • says

      Hi Andrew. While I respect your opinion and personal experiences, I’m sure I could find just as many people with overwhelmingly positive personal experiences. That’s why policy is generally based on research and verifiable evidence, not opinion and personal experience.

      There’s no evidence to suggest refugees fail to assimilate, or even that they assimilate more slowly than any other immigrants. Nor is there any evidence that they cause problems.

      Boat people are receiving so much attention because the vast majority are genuine refugees, who have broken no laws, and who are simply doing what they have a fundamental human right to do, and following the standard process for onshore asylum application, yet the Australian government is denying them protection (which it is legally obligated to provide). I’m surprised you even have to question why it’s worthy of attention.

      It’s the government that has turned this into a political issue. And I’m appalled by that. For me, this issue has nothing to do with politics, it’s a purely humanitarian issue. (For the record, I think labor were very little better, and both the make parties simply build on the wrongs of the profits government.)

  34. Michelle says

    Thank you Glen for such a clear & concise breakdown of the facts. I agree with the comments above about getting this out more widely via YouTube & other social media. Unfortunately we are never going to convince the hard liners & haters in our society, but I still have faith that the majority of Australians are fair minded enough to consider the facts & make up their own mind. You seem a bit surprised by how quickly this has spread, but I think it just shows how much people are looking for this sort of information and that there is a gap out there that you have filled. Thank you again.

    • says

      Hi Michelle. Thanks for your kind words. Let’s hope you’re right about the majority of Australians. And yeah, I’ve been very surprised by how many people have seen my post. I think that goes to show you how interested people are in the issue, but also how hard it is to get good, accessible, meaningful data. Thanks again. :-)

  35. Owen Godfrey says

    This is pretty good. a couple of points though;

    I have read an article by journalists who pretended to be asylum seekers to enter Australia as boat people. They reported that asylum seekers were destroying their passports before rescue, but that this also seemed to be a very symbolic gesture, as well as being an attempt to hinder any possibility of deportation.

    “While we waited to be rescued, the Iranians set about destroying their passports. “So they can’t deport you,” Farah told me. Clearly, though, the task also carried some symbolic weight. Rather than simply jettisoning them, the asylum seekers painstakingly ripped out each individual page, crumpled it into a ball, and tossed it to the wind. A pair of scissors was passed around. The burgundy covers, emblazoned with the Iranian coat of arms, were cut into tiny pieces. The work was accomplished with flair and relish. Only one man seemed hesitant. Moving closer, I saw that the passport he was disposing of was his son’s. When the scissors came his way, he carefully cut out the photo on the first page and slipped it in his wallet.”THE DREAM BOAT – New York Times

    It is an over simplification to say that people don’t know this stuff because the politicians “lie” about it. Our politicians are just that, politicians, and as such they tell people what they want to hear. They are also ordinary people in a great many ways, and so they are subject to the same forces that act on the rest of us. Face it, while there are many enlightened politicians, its the ones that seem most in touch which what ordinary people are feeling who will be voted in, and those people will simply speak the feelings of everybody else. The problem is deeper, that people today feel threatened by the events that are shaping the rest of the world, and when thousands of refugees flood out of their own country and head for our shores, we become scared, and fear leads to xenophobia instead of empathy. Then people will search for reasons to justify their fears. They don’t want to stop people entirely, they’re just afraid of being overwhelmed, and it doesn’t help to label them as “bad people”; they’re not, they’re just ordinary people. Well, I’m not ordinary; I say let them ALL in, but I tell you that the prospect of that policy does make me afraid. But ALL of Australia has to decide to make that policy work before it has a chance.

    So thanks for this article, I think it is really excellent, but please be patient with the people who don’t seem to understand; they’re just afraid.

    • says

      Great comment, thanks, Owen. I agree on all points. Except the lying. Yes, I agree politicians will tell the people what they want to hear, but in order to do so, they’re lying. Constantly. And they’re also being dishonest in that their overarching objective is to distract us from what they see as the big issues (like TPP agreements and amnesty for mega-rich tax cheats).

      In any event, thanks again, for commenting. :-)

    • carlos cruz says

      well articulated and you make some good points but you are missing the real problem and that is the cold blooded elitist cartel of families who orchestrate everything from their shadowy mansions. The banks, the finances, The governments and the media, The education of our children and the medical system and drugs. everything as cold as ice playing on our human frailties and watching the horrific scenes of violence, starvation and madness like a soap opera, a sadistic soap opera. and yes most importantly they have their clutches all over the communications especially the internet. To us , they are like ruthless Gods, at their bidding and mercy we are being led in fear and confusion. There is a saving grace and his name is Love. In anyones language Love is the defining point between life and death, physically and spiritually.

      I agree entirely with you about the fear mongering but I humbly point out that money talks and what we see in the form of Mr. Abbott is nothing more than a village whore selling his soul and having his misguided ego stroked by the Gods in return. His totally out of place comments about the whistleblower Edward Snowden shows who is paying the piper. Snowden should be up for a Nobel Prize at the very least. The courage and conviction to do what is right should be held up to our children as an example of how we all should be, instead the world powers hunt and will kill this fine man, one way or the other.

      The big picture is hard to see if you are trapped in one scene, its only when the credits start rolling at the end that we will get a glimpse of our earthly gods. I thank God for his Holy and pure spirit and the knowledge that light will always overcome darkness, but only if we act, You have to light a candle and then set that candle in a place of darkness. Our problem is the darkness is so great that we are stumbling around in the gardens never able to find the masters rooms.

      And finally I wholeheartedly agree with you for a call for patience and endurance. Love is patience, Love is gentle and kind. Love is not boastful or prideful.

      Thank you for your insightful comments

      Love Carlos

    • Tracy says

      Yes, Owen, the New York Times ‘Dream Boat’ story spoke about the apparent symbolic destruction of passports. I’m glad you mentioned that. Glenn, thank you for writing this.

  36. Kerrie says

    I think Stevo and Karen have eloquently proved your point about ignorance and misinformation. I’d laugh if it weren’t so tragic.

  37. Laura Cora Macolino says

    Thank you for this wonderful explanation. I’m horrified reading how the boat ppl are treated and how ppl in oz turn the other way not to see and also how many ppl instigate racism…. I’m a recent migrant, 7 yrs in oz, citizen now. Did not flew any country, but I can understand and feel the pain of the boat ppl who risk their lives and the ones of their children for a slim hope of LIFE without fear of daily death risk! How can it be that a “civilized” country cannot see this??? It really devastates me…
    Thank you for your post, I’ll try my best to share it. I believe every drop is important…

    • says

      Thanks for your comments, Laura, I’m afraid I can’t answer your question. I think many Australians just don’t respond to evidence… :-(

  38. Bec says

    Really interesting, thought provoking article – I’d like to share it if that’s ok.
    FWIW, I came across it via Twitter – re-tweeted by Julian Burnside.

    • says

      Thanks Bec, yes, please do share. The more people who see the facts, the better. And thanks also for the heads-up on Julian’s tweet. I didn’t see it (although I’ve since tracked it down). Much appreciated. :-)

    • says

      Hi Paul. You’re right, I’m still trying to figure out what we can do, myself. Definitely heading to your local March in March is a great start:

      Beyond that, write to your local politicians and to Abbott and co. tell them what you think, and demand they stop.

      I think we need a Constitutional Convention, and when we get it, we need to change the system to a vote-for-policies system. No politicians, no parties… I’ll be blogging about my thoughts on this soon.

  39. Penelope Galbraith says

    This is a fantastic, clear and concise summary about the issues surrounding boat people and I wholeheartedly agree with all the points raised in your article. Well done!

  40. Dale Anderson says

    I think you are preaching to the converted Glenn. This blog is better than most others that are similar in nature but it is still too biased to influence those in the community that hold the view that we should stop the boats. There are controversial topics around this issue that are brushed over in this article.

    It is nonsense to suggest there are no pull factors that influence the numbers of boat people arriving. It would be completely counter to human nature if this were true.

    Treating all immigrants as being equal is misrepresenting reality. Refugees have often come from poor nations with little education. They have often suffered trauma and have been surrounded by violence and hostility. To suggest that a refugee from Somalia is going to have the same needs as a immigrant from England is ridiculous. I am not saying we should not be helping refugees but I am saying that is wrong to compares numbers of individuals without taking note of the services that should be put in place to ensure new arrivals adjust to our society harmoniously.

    7.30 and other reputable news sources have reported that individuals have travelled to Australia for economic prosperity and have ditched their passports to aid this process and yet once again you brush over this aspect.

    Yep, I could go on but I will keep it short and state it was too biased to be useful.

    Cheers, Dale

    • says

      Hi Dale. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it. I’ll address your concerns one at a time, so I don’t miss any:

      1) What do you think is biased about my article?

      2) Do you have any verifiable evidence that Australia’s policies on boat people influence the number of boat arrivals?

      3) I’m not suggesting anything about the support required for refugees. I’m simply responding to claims that we’re being “swamped” by a “flood” of boat people. The evidence proves we’re not.

      4) I haven’t seen any verifiable evidence that any refugees who came by boat did so for economic prosperity. If you have, please feel free to share.

      Thanks again for your comment, and I look forward to your reply.

  41. Jurgen says

    Thanks Glenn for a very informative and detailed explanation, many points I wasn’t aware until now. I believe the time has come to stop all the misinformation.

  42. Lmlokan says

    Regarding Collins class submarines I believe that you are a victim of the very media you complain about as I live with someone who worked on the Collins class submarine build and know that both the statements about the Collins class statements that you made are false

    • says

      Hi Lmlokan. I haven’t investigated the Collins Class sub issue as thoroughly as I’d like. My understanding of its faults and the problems of construction come partly from the article I cited, partly from some very quick scanning of this Wikipedia article ( and, yes, a vague impression gleaned from the mainstream media. I also have a vague recollection of working with some technical writers who were involved in the project.

      It looks to me that there were plenty of problems in the construction (and its management), and I suspect if I spent just an hour or two, I could confirm this.

      However, until I’ve done that, I’ll revise my comments. Thanks for pointing this out. :-)

  43. says

    A common feeling among most Australians … WE WILL DECIDE WHO COMES INTO THIS COUNTRY. Says a lot for the left wing loonies who couldn’t give a stuff about the homeless, and the people who live in cars and under bridges. These “economic refugees” (so called by an interpreter) think they have the God-given right to trample over the people who choose to come to Australia by honest means, not by sucking up to the United Nations charter, which was drawn up by left-wing countries and then demanding that the dopey Labor government sign it. These “refugees?” , once they arrive, are given FREE medical, dental, a new phone and $50 a week to phone home, plus a house paid for by us mug taxpayers. RIDICULOUS.
    Did Indonesia demand an apology from Australia for inadvertently straying into Indonesian Waters ? … YES!
    Does Indonesia apologise for asylum seeker boats barging into Australian waters?… NO!
    Did Indonesia apologise to Australia for the murder of five Australian journalists? … NO!
    The sad thing is that nobody notices the ethnicity of a large number of mature males who arrive in Australia ILLEGALLY? THEY have a plan, and people are too blind to realise it.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Joan. I’ll address each of your points, one at a time:

      1) Left-wing/right-wing is irrelevant. And a distraction. This is a humanitarian issue, not a political one. But if you’re referring to me when you say “left wing loonies”, then I can assure you, I do care about the homeless. Perhaps you might care to take a look at some of the other posts on my blog?

      2) Asylum seekers aren’t entitled to the same welfare as citizens and permanent residents. They get Asylum Seeker Assistance (ASA), which covers basic living expenses, at a rate below Centrelink benefits. Once an asylum seeker’s claim is processed, and they’re judged a refugee, they receive the same amount of social security as a citizen or permanent resident. They apply for social security through Centrelink like everyone else and are assessed for the different payment options in the same way as everyone else. There are no separate Centrelink allowances that one can receive simply by virtue of being a refugee. If you believe this is inaccurate, please feel free to share any verifiable evidence backing your claim.

      3) Refugees don’t trample over anyone. They’re a very small percentage of the population. And the only reason they cost us so much money is that they’re not allowed to work until they receive permanent residency. i.e. It’s the government’s fault they’re not out there contributing to our economy.

      4) Australia actually helped write the Refugee Convention, and we acceded to it (under Menzies, a Liberal Prime Minister) in 1954. We then ratified the 1967 Protocol in 1973 (under Whitlam, a Labor Prime Minister). Please expand on which left-wing nations wrote it, and what is left-wing about it.

      5) This issue is not about Indonesia, it’s about Australia’s legal obligations and the human rights of asylum seekers.

      6) If you have any verifiable evidence of any plan these asylum seekers are allegedly hatching, please feel free to share.

      7) As discussed in my post above, asylum seekers have not broken any law, and are therefore, not illegal.

  44. Matthew Pickstone says

    This is typical greens madness. Continue to have the boats come and you’ll keep the people smugglers in business. Continue to have the boats come and there will be more deaths at sea. Over a 1000 that we know about.

    I agree with Abbott on this one.

    I just read this article from the Brisbane Times… A convicted people smuggler believes the Abbott government’s hard-line policy of turning back the boats is working as a deterrent for both people smugglers and those seeking passage by boat to Australia.

    Dawood Amiri spoke to Fairfax Radio’s Neil Mitchell by phone from his jail cell in an Indonesian prison … said people smugglers and their clients were being put off by the prospect of being turned back at sea by the Royal Australian Navy.
    Asked if he believed the Abbott government’s controversial policy of “turning back the boats” would work, Amiri replied: ”Of course it will work, it is working…”

    • says

      Hi Matthew. Thanks for your comment.

      There’s no verifiable, statistical evidence to suggest this will change the numbers of boat people who arrive, nor any evidence that it will increase demand for people smuggling. I appreciate you read a quote from a people smuggler, but that’s not really evidence to base a policy on.

      The issue of deaths due to the boat trip should not be conflated with the issue of asylum seekers’ human rights and Australia’s legal obligations. The two are entirely separate issues. If the Australian government were truly interested in saving lives, it wouldn’t be towing boats back to Indonesian waters and abandoning them. There were reports of 3 deaths after the latest asylum seekers were towed back and abandoned.

      Again, this is not a political issue for me, and I’m appalled that successive governments (both labor and liberal) have made it one. That’s one of the reasons I detest both parties, and the entire party system.

      This is a humanitarian issue, and should be treated as such.

      • Owen Godfrey says

        Glenn, I’m sorry but if the reports of the government are true, then there have been no new boat arrivals in several weeks. Of course, we have no information on how many boats have been “turned around” … and we have no information on whether any boats have made it through without being detected. Previously, refugees had an interest in presenting themselves to the government, now they will hide as best as they can.

        My personal feeling is that I would like to allow all refugees in.

        • says

          Sorry, Owen, I mis-spoke. What I meant was there’s no evidence that it will reduce the number of asylum seekers to TRY to reach Australia.

  45. says

    Myself and my family and friends have had this self same opinion for so long, although not always with the stats to back us up.
    Thanks for putting this into layman’s terms for those people confused by or too stubborn to fully understand this issue.
    Let them seek the asylum they need, let them live, work and contribute in our society. There are ways of keeping a regular check on asylum seekers whilst processing their refugee status.
    You would find they would be very willing workers if they were told they must find a job and start paying taxes asap…less burden on social security system, more taxes to the govnt and no need for detention centres.

    • says

      Hi Rene. Thanks for your comment. I agree entirely. I’m sure most asylum seekers would be very willing to work and to become a valuable member of our society. Of course, this is an assumption on my part. It’d be interesting to hear their thoughts on this issue. Have you seen anything where they talk about it? I’d also be keen to see stats on employment of asylum seekers and refugees, but haven’t been able to find any.

  46. Wilma says

    Your article is most informative and provides statistics to confirm and reaffirm my own opinion. I thought this was worth sharing, but it has drawn a negative comment from a Facebook friend, who says she refuses to believe the statistics and continues to believe that “boat people” are not impoverished and have families living in ‘opulent homes”. I scarcely know how to answer this level of misunderstanding, and feel I don;t want to even acknowledge this kind of comment with a response.

    • says

      I feel your pain, Wilma. You can lead a person to knowledge but you can’t make them think. Some people are just highly resistant to evidence. :-(

    • says

      Hi Paul. Thanks for commenting. Are you happy that there are 1,144 children in detention for absolutely no reason? Are you happy that Australia is paying billions of dollars to a foreign (profit-making) company to detain asylum seekers for years, when they could be out working and contributing to our economy? Are you happy that even when asylum seekers are awarded refugee status, they’re still not allowed to work, so they’re forced to be a drain on our welfare system? Are you happy that these asylum seekers are imprisoned for years, despite the government knowing the vast majority (approx 92%) are genuine refugees, fleeing torture, wrongful imprisonment or death due to persecution in their own country? Are you happy that Australia has to eventually support these people through the emotional issues they develop as a result of the hardships imposed by the Australian government? Are you happy that 3 asylum seekers just died after being towed back to Indonesian waters and abandoned? Would you be happy if it were you and your family in that situation?

  47. Ally says

    While informative, nothing here was new to me. Obviously, this means I wasn’t in your target market as I have the ability to apply critical thinking. But I found it to be written too simply, that it became almost patronizing – especially the summary at the end!
    I don’t necessarily agree with all of your opinion, but find it refreshing to see an attemp made to tear down the veil.

    • Owen Godfrey says

      Paul: You are welcome to your opinion, but my personal opinion of someone who is so willing to allow others to suffer so that they can live happy and insular lives is not a friendly one. As for your your assertion that you are a “critical thinker”, I’d urge you to review your own words and use a dictionary where the words are too difficult.

      But I suppose those words are not at all generous … still, while you accuse Glenn of being patronising, your own words are far more patronising.

      • Paul says

        If you think your opinion of me will change my point of view in anyway you are sadly mistaken, as far as “critical thinker”. I never made that assertion. My opinion is based purely on my previous experiences both here in Australia and overseas

        • says

          Paul, you say “My opinion is based purely on my previous experiences…” By definition, personal experience is very limited. There’s only so much you can see and do, personally. Doesn’t it concern you, then, that you’re judging thousands of people based on such limited experiences?

          That’s why qualitative evidence isn’t used to reveal the big picture. We can only see the big picture by looking at quantitative evidence (stats derived from statistically significant sample sets). Like data on the actual approval rate of asylum cases.

          In other words, qualitative evidence (like personal experiences) gives us the fine detail in the picture drawn by the quantitative evidence.

          And the quantitative evidence in this case tells us that the vast majority (92%) of asylum seekers are genuine refugees.

          • Paul says

            Well you would be surprised I think, but I believe Australia should be processing “boat people” in Indonesia, IF they are genuine refugee’s we should be flying them in. Does not mean I would be happy with a certain religion being allowed into the country, but like I said that is from personal experience that you lend no weight to, and spending close to 10 years in these parts of the world I believe I have met more than enough to form an opinion on what they will bring to Australia. And no doubt I will be labeled a racist for my view, but that’s fine, it’s not about race, it is about religion

          • says

            An interesting idea, Paul. To be honest, I’d have to think about this a lot more before offering an opinion. It would certainly resolve the issue of the dangerous boat trip.

            Outside of that, yeah, while I respect your opinion on Muslims, obviously we need a little more than opinion built on personal experience to formulate policy. :-)

      • says

        Hi Owen. I think you have Ally’s comment confused with Paul’s. Ally was the one who said my writing was patronising, and that she’s a critical thinker. Paul was the one who said he voted for these policies and he’s happy he did. :-\

        • Owen Godfrey says

          Oops. Thanks for pointing that out. Apologies, that does change things. Taken together, those statements seemed arrogant and patronising, separately … well, now I am embarrassed. Of course Paul may have voted for the government and he may be happy that they are following through with the policy … but he’s also reading this, so he wants to know. I hope that Paul will come around.

          As for Ally, I would point out to her that the focus audience of this article is looking for simple, accurate and clear statement of the situation, I don’t see any bias in the statistics presented, although yes, some counter points might be welcome. As an example, the statistics provided are orientated at dispelling a number of myths about boat people, but it might be more productive if present the myth and any information that would support the myth. Personally, I can’t think of any beyond the rise of the number of refugees and the cost. As for the matter that there is no solid data to support the assertion that the tow back policy will reduce the number of boats … that is an ambiguous statement, because the government has indicated that there have been no new boat arrivals, even thug we have no data on how many boats have been turned around. However, it is effectively saying “Don’t come to Australia or we send you to horrible retention camps in foreign countries or steal your phones and navigation equipment and set you adrift close to land.” basically saying that our horrifying conditions are worse than the horrifying conditions they are escaping.

          I view this as though we are boats at see. Australia is a medium sized boat that is comfortable and has room for a few more people, and the boat people are … well, a small boat that is crowded and threatening to sink.

          As I see it, I couldn’t refuse to help the people in the sinking boat, to bring them aboard and help them, but I would be afraid when I saw more boats coming. The detention system is effectively saying “We can’t take any more right now, but we’ll tow you to somewhere safe.” That okay, although I still think we should take them all aboard. Turning back the boats though? That is pushing them back and saying “I’m sorry you’re sinking, but its not our problem!”

          It unacceptable, and frankly I feel it un-Australian. Many other countries in the world are doing far more for refugees. Some of the least rich countries in the world, like Pakistan for instance, are pouring an appreciable part of their GNP into helping refugees. Australia? We’re doing almost nothing in comparison; a token effort. It makes me feel ashamed.

          • says

            Don’t worry about it, mate. We all make mistakes. But very few fess up with any grace.

            Re the counter-arguments, I think we hear plenty of those every day. This post is long enough without polluting it with misinformation too. Sure there may be some valid counter-arguments to a few of my points (although I’m yet to hear them), but I’m certainly not going to go searching for them and clutter the post with them, when the asylum seekers are already facing enough opposition.

            Re policy not stopping boat arrivals. I think I only said that in my comments. And after you pointed it out, I corrected myself. What I meant was it won’t stop boat people TRYING to get here.

    • says

      Hi Ally. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m sorry you found the post patronising. Everyone responds differently to these things and, as much as I’d like to, it’s impossible to please them all. :-\ That said, I think you’re jumping to conclusions about my target audience. Many people reading this blog are doing so because they were referred here by various refugee advocate organisations. For the most part, these people are definitely critical thinking, or they wouldn’t be here. They’re questioning the line the government and media are feeding them, and they’re looking for evidence to refute it.

  48. Bri-Oni says

    Hi Glenn
    Just thought I’d let you know that a few of my friends and acquaintances’ are beginning to question the asylum seeker policy of this government and the ‘need’ for secrecy. They are starting to question the assertions that the refugees are illegal by the Abbott government They are starting to THINK for themselves and not believe what is being spoon-fed to them by the biased media and secretive government. .

    One of the great outcomes of this is that they are also questioning other policies of this government. They are thinking and talking about things that a few weeks ago they would have ignored and I am so happy about this. We are all discussing these things and while sometimes things get a little heated, we take a deep breath and carry on when things have calmed down

    Two friends (so called) are not speaking to me as I have clearly become ‘brainwashed ‘ by Labor propaganda. I am sorry that they feel that way, but I am not going to lose sleep over it. It is their decision to continue in ignorance and while I do not like it, I will stand for it anymore

    Thank you for helping me at least open my friends eyes. From now on they can make informed decisions about this government, instead of blindly accepting everything the MSM, shock Jocks and MP’s tell them.

    I’ll finish by saying this

    I am one voice, alone in the darkness, but I will not be silent any longer, and with your help and the help of others like you, our voices will join together and then….hear us ROAR!!

    • says

      That is so, so cool, Bri. If everyone educates only one other, we’ll achieve a LOT! Thanks for the update. :-) ROAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRR! 😉

  49. James Sharp says

    Great work Glen. I train volunteers who work with refugees and shall reference your blog as part of the facts VS myths topic. One issue though, for your consideration. As your graph shows, the recent ‘spike’ is a pretty big one by Australia’s standards (still tiny, I know, compared to some other countries closer to the conflicts) and I wonder whether and when it would actually have fallen away again without govt action (action I disagree with)? Assuming it wouldn’t have, is it enough to simply say reduce the non-humanitarian share of the immigration intake? Do you think its possible for a govt to make a calculated decision about its total humanitarian intake (which I don’t think is done now, its just a number without much basis) and its composition and enforce, while still observing human rights obligations?

    • says

      Thanks James. That’s a great idea. Re your question, it’s a tough one. Firstly, I’d say let’s not assume the numbers will keep increasing when history tells us they’ll drop off. Secondly, I’d say most refugees simply can’t afford to make it to Australia, so that will naturally limit numbers. And thirdly, I’d say Australia should be proactively investigating any impact its had in the countries most of our boat people are fleeing: Sri Lanka, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. And if we’ve played a part in the issues, then we should help mop up. That’s an entirely separate discussion, of course, but must be considered. Unfortunately, my knowledge of these issues is VERY limited, so I can’t really comment. Definitely somewhere to start, though…

  50. Andiu says

    I’ll give you credit for your detailed explanation on what a refugee is, and our “obligation” to the international community.

    However, I believe you got one thing wrong about legal international law. Despite whatever UN charter or whatever international convention was signed, Nations still have the sovereign rights to do whatever they want to do. So to say that Australia has a legal obligation to accept refugee wouldn’t be accurate. It is true that the international community can say, “You’ve signed this” and give us a bit of pressure, but we don’t have any legal obligation to the boat people.

    • Mike says

      Not quite. Being a signatory to the Conventions is an obligation to uphold them, and there are ramifications for violating the Conventions. For instance, if a crimes against humanity suit is bought against the Australian government, then the implicated figures (Abbott, Morrison, possibly back to Rudd, Gillard, Bowen, possibly back to Howard, Ruddock, Vanstone if the case was pushed that far) would have a case to answer and couldn’t just ignore it.

      The World Court is empowered to hear such suits bought against any foreign national, has the precedent to show it, and was instituted to handle Covenant violations such as this one, among its other responsibilities.

      That’s not even an unlikely hypothetical. As the piece above mentions, Australia has been accused of ~150 human rights violations, and the deadline to answer that charge is fast approaching. If those charges are ignored, it’s possible a legal suit against the government can be initiated.

      So, yes, it is binding and it is an obligation. The World Court can hear suits bought against nations that aren’t even IDoHR signatories, so a signatory nation is hardly exempt.

    • says

      Andiu, that’s not strictly true.

      Adopting treaties like the Convention we’re discussing here is a two step process.

      The first is the formal adoption of the convention where the Government agrees to adopt the convention and its terms in principle. At this stage we can of course exercise our sovereign rights and adhere (or not), to the convention as we wish. At this point there are also no legal instruments people can use to challenge their rights under the convention, or that any international legal body can use to call our actions into account. It’s more a code of conduct at this stage than anything.

      The second step is ratification, where the convention is formally adopted,resulting in legal obligations in international law. That means we enact domestic legislation to make either the whole, or parts of the convention, part of our domestic laws. It’s at this point that people can mount challenges through our court system to enforce their rights (as asylum seekers are currently doing).

      So in one way you are right; we are free to exercise our sovereignty but we do this by picking and choosing which parts of the convention we’re going to ratify – i.e. put into domestic law. It can be a difficult process as there may already be domestic laws in place that uphold those rights. Eg. with the UN convention on the elimination of racial discrimination, many parts of the convention would have already been part of domestic law under the Racial Discrimination Act and other similar legislation. It’s a process for the legislature to decide whether to adopt new legislation or amend existing legislation at this point. Either way, we exercise our sovereignty by deciding what we’ll be bound by and ratifying those terms.

      Where your argument falls down is when you say we can do whatever we want, regardless of whether we’ve signed the treaty. If we’ve ratified certain parts of the treaty (which we have), we’re then obliged to uphold them. And it’s this that Glenn is talking about – our failure to uphold the parts of the treaty we’ve agreed to be bound by through ratification. One of which is accepting refugees and how we treat them.

      If we fail to uphold our obligations as enacted into domestic law, we’re then subject to the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner on Refugees). The problem is that as a committee, the UNHCR has very little power to do anything to us for failing to uphold our legal obligations. The international court may have jurisdiction to deal with the matter but it’s highly unlikely they’d ever do so. That’s why the burden falls on our domestic courts.

      If you doubt the process or the info I’ve outlined, see this DFAT fact sheet for more information –

  51. Justin says


    Fantastic job buddy great work. I may have missed this in the article or stats but it would be interesting if you were to put up stats of which nations are looking after the most number of refugees / asylum seekers people in Australia seem to think we take on our fair share. Stats prove otherwise. That is the poorest nations on earth look after vastly more numbers of asylum seekers and further even when compared with the developed nations Australia’s intake is only a slight fraction and lowest of all the developed nations.


    • says

      Hi Justin. Thanks for your comment and your support. Love it! There are actually some stats up there about which nations get the most asylum seekers. :-) And yes, the poorest countries tend to get (and accept) the most.

  52. Dawn says

    I still don’t think we should just let them in!!! They could be drug dealers, criminals, rapists or just plain nasty pieces of work in amongst the ‘asylum seekers’ so there has to be checks done on these people BEFORE they arrive here. We have enough of those kind of people here already, we don’t want more!! They could be riddled with disease which we could catch or that could destroy our existing population or they could have major disabilities that we as tax payers will also have to support and pay for and we support enough of the them now and give them a better life then most Australians get already! Stop being so ‘special’ and thinking we have to open our doors to every tom dick and harry without doing any sort of quality checks.

    • says

      Hi Dawn. Thanks for your comment. All those checks ARE done, before they’re awarded asylum status.

      I’m not sure what the policy on disability is, but I suspect (hope) it’s not a showstopper. But I don’t think you’ll have much to worry about, in any case. I doubt many disabled people would be on the boats, so the percentage would be negligible. And those few who do get in? I’m sure Australia has a far better chance of supporting them than they have of surviving persecution…

      • James Sharp says

        On the question of disability – I guess it depends on what your definition is. Many refugees have suffered physical and/or mental torture. I work and volunteer with one refugee support agency where it is estimated that 25% of the clients have suffered quite severe physical and/or mental torture with 75% exposed to lesser degrees. I am afraid it goes with the territory that if you accept refugees you accept that an investment in their recovery is required.

        • says

          Very true, James. Which is one more reason why we should be meeting our legal obligation (not to mention our moral one). In the interests of fairness, as I demand evidence from everyone else, do you happen to have any verifiable evidence backing those stats?

      • Owen Godfrey says


        The news on disability is rather grim. In the refugee camps, from which Australia helps by accepting a quota from the overflow, I have been told directly by someone who has DIRECT experience that the Australian quota comes with a restriction of perfect health. There are other countries in Northern Europe who have a police of giving preference to people with disabilities.

        However, in terms of “boat people” refugees, I have not heard a whisper of any bias one way or the other in terms of bias on the basis of disability … but the likelihood of someone with a disability being able to make this journey …


    • Butterflywings says

      Disabled people have a better life than most Australians? You’re kidding right? Maybe a few intellectually disabled people who have no medical or therapy costs but for those of is with physical disabilities we live in agony, unable to afford medications or doctors because our “free” healthcare system is anything but free. I lost track of the number of times I skipped meals to feed my child. And have spent my entire life going without medications and treatments I desperately need and am in tens of thousands of debt paying for the meds and treatments and specialists I’d have died without. And only alive today (after I could borrow no more) because I married my second husband who spends every cent he has supporting my medical costs and much needed therapy for my daughter (something I couldn’t afford before). Without him, her and I would be lost; I’d probably be dead. And so many disabled people end up like that – hungry and sick til they end up homeless and sometimes dead.

      Disabled having a better life? You’re dreaming if you think that is the case for physically disabled people.

  53. Angie says

    Glenn, this was brilliantly expressed.

    But reading through the comments, it is disheartening just how immune people can be to evidence-based argument. The sensational nature of the terrifying anecdote wins. Reminds me of the fear and misinformation surrounding the anti-vaxers.

    Will share but this might feel anti-climactic given that the exquisite Julian Burnside QC has already done so! Kudos, Glenn. :)

    • says

      Hi Angie. Thanks for your kind words. It can definitely feel disheartening, but if you add up the number of comments for and against, here, I think you’ll find that encouraging. I do. Also, the fact that this post has become semi-viral is also very heartening (thanks to the wonderful Julian Burnside, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) and March in March, as well as all the individuals like yourself who’ve shared). The more people who become aware of the facts, the better. If you do a search on this page for “Bri-Oni”, and read a couple of her comments, you’ll be even more pleased.. 😉

  54. Liam says

    Very nice article, well articulated and set out.

    The only thing that slightly irked me were the first couple of piecharts breaking down the ways refugees gain entry to the country, contrasting boat arrivals with everything else leaves accurate, but skewed facts.

    It’s like a half truth, you have to present the means of entry each on their own for the graph to be a true accurate representation.. It reminds me of something fox news would do.

    It’s small, but just a pet peeve of mine, good article nontheless

    • says

      Hi Liam. Thanks for the comment. Not sure what you mean re the graphs though. My intent was simply to counter the belief that boat people are the only so-called ‘illegal immigrants’…

      • Liam says

        You did well in showing it, what I mean is that you broke it down with one form of entry(arriving on boats), contrasted with all other forms of entry. It clearly shows that refugees aren’t mainly arriving on boats (or atleast weren’t).
        But the commonly held belief amongst those whose world views aren’t so selfless, is that the so called ‘boat people’ are swarming in, while this is untrue in terms of total refugees from boats, and as a whole. It is still accurate of the way they enter the country.

        I’m not so good with putting my words eloquently, perhaps an over exaggerated comparisson would be good.

        Say some news corp put out a chart regarding gun violence in america, the pie chart shows that gun violence is 40% of all violent crimes in america, but the 60% portion is every other kind of violent crime.
        The intent of the graph in that instance would be to trick people into believing guns aren’t even the main problem, when there could be many multiples more gun crimes than any other crime (these stats are inaccurate and made up on the spot for the sake of the comparison)

        The ignorant, but accurate belief is that the boats are the main source of asylum seekers making it here.Source being a singular means of entry, it still stands that previously that single source was less than the sum of all other means of entry.

        Having spouted all this nonsense, the article, and the point of the piecharts holds valid, and it’s truly irrelevant how people that NEED help should enter the country, and I find it appalling that (unfortunately) the majority of the public demonizes the one form of entry that is the most dangerous.

        I hope that somewhat makes sense, it’s been a long day

        • says

          Hahaha. Makes perfect sense, mate. Completely understand now. Although I don’t really agree… My intent was definitely to simplify it so people could see that there are plenty more unauthorised arrivals, not just boat people. The breakdown is in the copy above the chart, I think…

          Outside of that, I’m 100% with you. Asylum seekers need our help, and we’re obligated to provide it. Everything else is just a political smokescreen (by both sides of government).

          • Liam says

            No for sure, at first when I encountered the article, just that first chart grabbed my eye, I almost considered it a fluff piece (before I realized theres like 10k words on the page)
            After reading it I realized you weren’t trying to skew data or anything, and it was simply easier to present it like that, It’s just one of my warning flags.

            The whole situation is truly unfortunate, my mother is a nurse in one of the hospitals where they end up if they go on hunger strike, or are seriously injured, she said she feels so bad that they would consider starving themselves to get attention (good attention) from the outside world.

            But she also has horror stories of them being abusive and what have you, but I figure, they are in Prison, really, theres no other way to spin it.
            I’d be abusive if I travelled thousands of k’s by sea to escape persecution and ended up in prison.
            She mentioned they need armed guards at the door at all times.
            I couldn’t discern wether that was to protect the nurses, or to protect the refugee (since they are in a public ward, just a private room)

            The breakdown is in the info above the chart, but the kind of people that this article is aimed at, they don’t read words. They read the title then the chart.
            No, I shouldn’t say that, there are intelligible ones..

            Anyway, good work on the article, it was fascinating to get some newer stats regarding arrivals, the stats i’d had to spout at people were a little out dated, i assume they were from the low point in boat arrivals, since the refugees who arrived by ‘legal’ means and then just didn’t leave was many multiples higher than the amount of people arriving on boat.

            I’ll make sure to share your article.

          • says

            Yeah, I get what you’re saying. I’d hazard a guess most people don’t respond to this chart that way, though. In fact, I think far more people would ignore it if I complicated it.

            And yes, your mother’s experiences sound very upsetting. For both her and the refugees. :-(

  55. Paul says


    Very well researched & written, your descriptions seem impartial & objective while making some very valid points.

    I see in the comments there’s still unfortunately significant ignorance & fear from some people who feel threatened by arrivals, you’ve managed to keep to the facts & avoid an emotive response in all cases which is a further credit to your writing.

    All in all a great read, I’ll share with whoever will read & if you do make a video/animation please let me know, it would be great to see!

    • says

      Thanks Paul. I appreciate your support. Very nice. :-) I’ll definitely let everyone know if/when I make a video/animation of the post. Cheers!

  56. Shaz says

    I personally think that both sides are wrong. Having lived and travelled in many countries from which the refugees are coming from, and having talked and lived with people who would take a boat, I can comprehensively state that people will do ANYTHING it takes to (a) get out, OR (b) improve their life economically (regardless that they could die, or that they leave their family behind momentarily).

    Before making any assumptions on motivation, you should actually take to asylum seekers.

    Australia is truly a land of opportunity to them, nothing can be worse than being in a refugee camp like Zaatari, or living in squalor in Karachi, or being persecuted for being an intellectual in Tehran. These are people who willingly become labourers in Saudi deserts, maids locked away in UAE houses, or who leave their own children behind in Africa to look after others peoples for less than $100 a month. There are also many educated people who genuinely live in fear of death from day to day, who would never risk making enquiries or sending documents for out of country applications. The risk is worth it, the passport is worth nothing (and can be destroyed), etc.

    These people will also believe a dream, they will believe that “life will be wonderful and you will be able to bring your whole family across”, because there is nothing else left to dream about. If they can’t get the visa to enter, of course they will try other ways even if there is a slim chance of success. I’m not saying this like I think Australia is right, nor wrong, but it is fact. How people vote, and how policies are built around this, only goes to show the ethical/moral/community nature of life.

    I have seen statistics saying that up to 40% of Australian passports holders were not born in Australia, so clearly there are a vast number of “immigrants” who follow regular routes, so the numbers of asylum seeker is clearly a small number in comparative terms. Quite logically, it is also totally unreasonable to expect that 100,000’s of refugees from just single camps in Lebanon, Ethiopia, Turkey, etc, will flood in.

    However, I do think that there will be social, safety and security issues which must be dealt with on occasion, and that ASIO has a difficult task in determining risk. There is no simple answer.

    • says

      Hi Shaz. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Much appreciated. Yes, definitely ASIO has a challenging task. But more challenging than keeping an eye on the millions of immigrants and tourists coming to Australia every year? I don’t know.

      As for right/wrong, I’m not sure what you’re saying is wrong. The fact is, approx 92% of boat people are eventually found to be genuine refugees. Not people merely seeking a better economic situation, but people fleeing real persecution in their home countries.

  57. Clay says

    Wow! These comments have reinforced many of the beliefs that I have been chatting to you about Glenn. The positive aspect however is how quickly the article has reached so many. You are right not to debate with irrational people as time is to precious.

    • says

      Thanks mate. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the comments. But then again, the post was spread by refugee advocates, so it’s not surprising it’s been read mostly by refugee advocates too. So I’m not drawing too many conclusions. I’m just happy it’s been seen by more than 23,000 people in just a week!

  58. Butterflywings says

    A few flaws but pretty good article. Sadly there IS a queue and if you spend time with refugees who spend years waiting in Indonesia, you’ll quickly find this out.

    And I’m not anti refugee to say this. In fact I believe Australia should massively increase its offshore intake (offshore only!).

    People complain about the state of our detention centres but they are a lot better than refugee camps and most people in refugee camps would gladly take a place in our detention centres for years instead.

    It is rather irksome to the people spending years extra in refugee camps because other people have the money to buy a place on a boat. And it’s insulting to those in refugee camps to deny their reality that there is a queue to get here.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Butterflywings. Great to have you here. Re the queue, it’s complicated, but it’s definitely not true to say there’s a queue…

      Refugees in camps are not given a place in line and told to wait for their number to be called. It doesn’t work like this. Each asylum application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. I may have been waiting in a camp with my family for 10 years, but if someone arrived yesterday, and their case is judged more deserving of asylum, they’d be awarded a resettlement before me.

      That said, as discussed in my post, it’s certainly true that each time an onshore applicant (aka boat person) is awarded refugee status in Australia, there’s one fewer place for offshore applicants (whether they’ve been waiting in a camp 10 years or 1 day). But as explained in the post, this is because the Australian government numerically links our offshore and onshore intake quotas. No other government in the world does this.

      In other words, it’s Australia’s policy to take places away from offshore refugees. It has nothing to do with boat people. They’re just doing exactly what they have a legal right to do: Seek protection from persecution. What’s more, they’re following the standard process for applying for asylum: Onshore application.

      They just happen to have enough money to make it to Australia to apply for asylum. Those in refugee camps don’t. They’re both following the same process, just applying for asylum from different countries.

      I agree this is a terrible, tragic and traumatic situation for everyone in the refugee camps. But again, there’s no reason for Australia to deny any offshore applicant a place simply because an onshore applicant is granted a place. That’s just red tape causing trauma for thousands.

      I agree this is wrong, just as it would be wrong to turn away a refugee just because they were able to scrape together the funds to make it here. I’d like the government to de-link the two quotas, like every other government in the world.

      And yes, I’m sure those in the refugee camps would prefer to be in one of our detention centres. But just because they’re better than a refugee camp doesn’t make them legal (let alone moral or ideal). Nor does it make them a pleasant experience for the detainees. If you took someone out of a torture chamber and put them in a refugee camp, I’m sure they’d think it was better too.

      The point is that Australia’s current use of detention centres breaches our international legal obligations. Plus it’s way more expensive than simply settling asylum seekers (after a routine security and medical check) in the community and letting them work. More damaging too. For them and for Australia’s international reputation. And time will prove that this inhumane behaviour on Australia’s part will be viewed as another shameful chapter in Australia’s history. So it will be damaging to our national psyche as well.

  59. Rae McGowan says

    the saddest thing for me, apart from the disgusting treatment experienced by traumatised people, is that th white australia Policy is still alive and thriving for many people inthis country. I remember these same arguements when Vietnamese people sought refuge here in the70’s and 80’s and we we wer eexposed to same misinfromation, but then they were communists and rich people demonstrated by the gold bangles they wore!!). Yes many were highly educated by when they cold work they worked as commerial cleaners, domestic staff in hopspitals and retrained, often for positions lessthan what they originallytrained in.Maybe sanctions should be imposed on Australia as we did to South Africa–
    We are so fortunate that we have not experienced what they have in their home countries and hope that we never do. All politicans in this country have han obligation to set some moral examples to be truthful (if the rest of us behaved like they do our workplace we would be fired and possibly prosecuted– we need to be good bosses and fire them when they do not live up to respectable -standards. They MUST be required to meet our international legal obligations and stop lying. The media also must be held accountable for spreading misinformation
    So disappointed that this counrt has not grown as it could have and should have, but I am hopeful when iread articleslike this ansd supportive comments. we need tomake sure political parties know these kind of policies and practies will not do nd ifthey want office they have to lead by respectable and humane example

    • says

      Hi Rae. Thanks for commenting. I agree completely. Personally, I think the time for party/personality based politics is over. It’s time for policy-based politics. We vote for policies, not politicians. And we have admin staff implementing those policies.

  60. Cynthia says

    Hi Glenn

    I very much appreciate your clarity of thinking, compassion and sustained efforts to keep a focus on this issue alive.

    Like others I want to have my say.

    The human brain has 3 distinct parts – the reptilian brain, the mid-brain and the neo-cortex. The most primitive – the reptilian brain deals with instincts, territoriality and reflexes. The mid-brain is the home of emotions and long-term memory. The neo-cortex is the latest evolutionary improvement. It is approx 1/4 inch thick covering the outer layer of the brain; quite literally called the “thinking cap”. It is the area where problem-solving, creativity and all higher order thinking skills take place. The human brain’s amazing capacity for new learning is not utilized when conditions of threat and fear are present. In fact, the brain “downshifts” from the neo-cortex to operate from the lower brain areas. And just as respondents have commented here in your blog that reasoning and evidence fails to prevail in some cases, we can begin to differentiate where people are at and where they are coming from, in the light of the above Triune brain model. (Dr Paul MacLean, Triune Brain Model, 1949)

    I think it is salutary to remember that we ALL have these 3 parts to our brains. How we acknowledge and become conscious of their different responses, both appropriate and inappropriate, is the challenge to all of us so that we can face all the issues of our multi-faceted lives – refugee asylum seekers being one.

    To me it is apparent that one can have clear thinking on an issue and yet not respond to it either out of compassion or action. Compassion without clear thinking or a path of action is equally debilitated; as is the impulse of action without thought or feeling. And so on with all degrees and variations of balance and imbalance.

    At some evolutionary point in one’s life, the individuality takes hold of these three threads of the personality – thinking, feeling, engaging – and then we are on the way, leaving behind the dust storm of egotism. It is indeed a Self-actualised moment when all three act in concert.

    Meanwhile, my personal mantra is – “There but for the Grace of God, go I.” So if I am with a reptilian brain response situation, how do I get inside that experience, both when it is another’s as well as when it is my own? How am I able to bring compassion and understanding to it? And so on.

    Furthermore, If we exclude personal experience (the lower 2 brain areas) as anectdotal and not evidence based, what is the evidence based upon? Is this a case of Baron von Munchausen hanging in the air by his own pigtail? We have to count ourselves and our experience in; and not discount ourselves and our experience. This for me is partner exchange. Love the one you’re with. Love here being a confluence of clarity of thought with action, or put more simply acting on what you perceive. My neighbours are asylum seeker refugees. I see them everyday. What do I think based on what I see? So much old thinking to tear down here because basically there appears before me a human being with the same needs, hopes and aspirations as myself. What do I feel? What do I do? It depends on what is going on in my 3 fold brain.

    Thank you, Glenn, for the opportunity of sounding forth on your blog.

    • says

      Hi Cynthia. Thanks for your insightful comment. I appreciate you taking the time. Very interesting! I don’t know enough on that subject matter to comment intelligently, but the theory seems to tick a lot of boxes.

      Re personal experience vs evidence, I understand what you’re saying, but I think you’re simplifying things a little. Yes much evidence (e.g. the ~92% asylum claim approval rate for boat people) is based on individuals applying personal judgement. But it’s a lot of individuals, who are informed about the situation, who are following detailed procedures, and who are investigating thoroughly. That lends the statistic a lot more reliability than the experiences of any one individual. In other words, there are personal experiences and there are personal experiences! What’s more, the anecdotes of an individual (or that individual’s friend) recounted here can’t be verified. And finally, if people are going to accuse refugees of causing civil unrest or of being criminals, their own prejudices do not a case make.

      And finally, not all my calls for verifiable evidence have been made in response to claims of personal experience. Some have been in response to generalised beliefs. Claims like “I just don’t believe they’re real refugees” or “you’ve only got to look at the violence in London to see the trouble they’ll cause”. No-one making these claims has asserted that they even have personal experience on the matter to back them up. They’re pure prejudice.

    • says

      Hi Sly. Thanks for your comment. I haven’t considered open borders, and certainly don’t know enough about it to comment. Please share your thoughts. :-)

  61. Wendy Peters says

    1.Why is it then that those that seek refuge from sharia law continue to follow it when they come?
    2. when they do come over- on average how many of their family subsequently come over on family visas to be with them, thus hiding the true numbers that follow on
    3. Whatever it costs to keep them in detention- will be cheaper than if they are accepted and remain a public burden or if they abscond.
    4. Best way is to remove ourselves as signatories and then have the freedom to determine who we accept as refugees rather than country shopping opportunists
    5. if they were genuine they would stop along at a safe country along the way.
    6. If they were genuine they would meet the requirements of flying over.
    7. Genuine refugees don’t bite the hand that feeds then and commits crimes whilst over here.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment, Wendy.

      1. What verifiable evidence do you have that refugees fleeing strict Sharia law countries continue to follow Sharia law when they come to Australia?
      2. I don’t know. Perhaps you can tell me?
      3. This is incorrect. According to Julian Burnside QC, based on last year’s figures, if ALL asylum seekers were granted interim visas and immediately relocated into the community and put on full Centrelink benefits (which would never happen), it would cost a maximum of $500m/year, and much/all of those Centrelink benefits would be sunk back into the community. At the moment, we’re spending $4b/year, most paid to the foreign, privately owned detention centre operators. In other words, if every single asylum seeker went onto full Centrelink benefits, we’d save approx $3.5b/year.
      4. Do you have any verifiable evidence that our asylum seekers are “country shopping opportunists”? If so, please share. The people assessing their claims certainly don’t believe they are.
      5. What country do you suggest they stop at? Please bear in mind that not all countries (such as Indonesia) have signed the Refugee Convention, and therefore not all countries are legally bound to protect them. Also, do you think that the people assessing their claims don’t consider things like this?
      6. Please refer to my post above. To fly over, they must have a visa. Not all refugees can get one. This is not a reflection of the validity or otherwise of their asylum claims.
      7. What crimes are you talking about? Please provide verifiable evidence that refugees are committing crimes.

    • Arif says

      There is big difference which majority of Australians either deliberately overlook or are ignorant of, between Muslims and Asylum Seekers. Radical Mulims (Sharia-lovers) are mainly Sunnis (who deem Shias to be more infidel than western non-believers) e.g. Arabs and others who have all come to Australian as economic migrants and permanently resettled as part of Australia’s annual immigration intake. Majority of Asylum Seekers who come by boat are Shia Muslims who have genuinely escaped the so-called Sharia and religious goons. Here are two major massacres, Hazara people faced in 1993 and 1998 in the hands of these Sharia lovers

      • says

        Hi Arif. Very good point. 83% of Muslim refugees since 2008 have been Shias. Can you share some links about Shia views on / adoption of Sharia law?

  62. J Hamilton-Smith says

    Interesting thoughts and views shared here. Thank you for an insightful publication. I guess I still wonder though,”Why Australia?” These asylum seekers cross through, or travel around, so many other countries first…why here? Especially the Afghan and Sri Lankan asylum seekers. There are other countries that are MUCH closer that they could go to.
    Also, I have spent some time in Afghanistan. They fight amongst themselves far more then they do the Taliban so that is hardly an excuse to leave.

    • says

      Hi J. Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure what countries they pass through, if any, on the way here, other than Indonesia. And if they do pass through any others, whether they’ve signed the Refugee Convention. I suspect they pass through none, but I don’t know for sure. I’m also not sure what countries that have signed the Refugee Convention are easier to get to than Australia. My understanding is that those are the main factors.

      Re infighting, I have no great knowledge of that. But what I do know is that 92% of Australia’s boat people are judged genuine refugees, so obviously they do have a good reason to fear persecution in their home country.

      • Arif says

        ‘These asylum seekers cross through, or travel around, so many other countries first”

        They do not cross through so many countries but mainly Malaysia and Indonesia and in some cases Thailand and neither are signatories to Refugee Convention. Even if we don’t take into account these countries being not signatory, there are other factors i.e treatment of foreigners (asylum seekers) who would have no legal rights what so ever in those countries and also socio-political environment. Religion is another big factor, I am a Hazara and can only speak from a Hazara’s perspective who once constituted majority of people getting on these boats. Hazaras adhere to Shia version of Islam and for many this has been the reason of their continued genocide. Indonesia and Malaysia both are majority Sunni states with severe hostility towards minorities particularly Shias as they deem them (us) to be more infidel than a westerner non-believer. Hazaras are more at risk in Indonesia and Malaysia than any other country. Here is a link of HRW’s report of persecution of minorities mainly Shias in Indonesia . In Malaysia, no Shia is allowed to build a place for prayer for themselves and I don’t need to even talk of about their treatment of Refugees, it is quite clear and many human rights organisations’ reports can be read.

        Further you said you have been in Afghanistan for ‘some’ time yet you assert that they fight ‘far’ more amongst themselves and therefore can’t be used as excuse. Truth is that, under Refugee Convention, you have to have a well founded fear of persecution and not ‘excuses’ so I am highly skeptical that anyone claiming asylum would use ‘excuses’ rather than explaining/proving his well-founded fear of persecution.

        And Yes I second you, there are MUCH closer countries to Afghanistan where Hazaras would go to (but the problem here is people fleeing persecution are after sanctuary and not accessible ‘Country’) and I assume you are unaware that there are over 3 million Afghans – most of them Hazaras – who live in neighboring country Iran and over half a million Hazaras in Pakistan. These people have all escaped brutal civil wa that is going on from decades and lately Taliban and most of them have permanently settled in those countries (So, It is completely untrue that Hazaras skip MUCH closer countries for Australia). However, in the past decade or so there has been unabated killing of Hazaras in Pakistan (which is well-documented), only in 2013 more than 320 Hazaras have been murdered in targeted killing and bomb blasts in Quetta city of Pakistan alone which makes it almost a Hazara martyr per day (Source: This has forced already displaced Hazaras to flee again and this time from Pakistan. In Iran, situation is even worse, their segregation and government sponsored discrimination is very common. Hazaras have not been recognized and refused basic human rights in Iran even after living there for more than three decades, their children can’t go to school and they are still deemed ‘illegal’, they live in ghettos and refrain from even walking on the street in order to avoid arrest, humiliation, torture and subsequent deportation to danger. Iranians in general and authorities in particular enjoy and think they are entitled to, torturing poor Afghan refugees on streets and public places. (HRW’s report here: to get a more real picture of this I suggest you meet NOT Afghan but Iranians who have now settled in Australia and ask them how they/Iranians treat Afghan Refugees in Iran and you will your answer why Hazaras are fleeing from MUCH closer countries (although they lived there for money decades) and endangering their lives on perilous boats.


  63. Vicki says

    Now if only I can get some of my family and friends to read this, they glaze over at any mention of Asylum Seekers and continually repeat the mantra of illegal.

  64. Meg says

    It’s interesting that the only illegal part of all of this is people smuggling – the illegality of people taking money to provide leaky boat transport to Australia. With the Australian government now having forcibly moved asylum seekers from those leaky boats into boats paid for with our money (complete with expensive tracking devices no doubt) and forcing them to go to Indonesia, our government is now directly involved in people smuggling too.

    If the boat transfer happened in Indonesian waters, we are guilty of breaching Indonesian border control. If we did it in our own waters, we are guilty of loading people into our own boats and secretly sending them to Indonesia from Australian territory. In either case it’s people smuggling, isn’t it?

    Sure, there may not have been money taken from the asylum seekers, but there is certainly a financial incentive for our government to avoid assessing them as refugees, so money is involved.

    And what about our legal obligation to accept genuine refugees under international law? Once they enter our waters our legal obligation is clear. Yet our government seems intent on carrying out it’s illegal operations.

  65. Linda says

    Some of the politicians’ rhetoric about stopping the boats is to stop people drowning at sea (if there was any effective disincentive to arriving by boat, drowning at sea would surely be it). I too share these concerns.
    However an appropriate solution would be for Australia – in collaboration with Indonesia – establish a refugee processing point in Indonesia. A refugee camp if you like. It might mean that people would have to wait while their bona fides were established. If they are not genuine refugees they are deported from Indonesia. Genuine refugees could be transported to Australia and so eliminating the risk of drowning and doing the people smugglers out of a job.

    • says

      Hi Linda, thanks for commenting. Sadly, I don’t have your faith in the compassion of our government. If they were concerned about refugees drowning, they wouldn’t be towing them back to Indonesian waters and abandoning them. (There were reports that 3 died recently.)

      Of course, they would probably claim it’s for ‘the greater good’ – that they’ll save more lives deterring boat people than they’ll lose implementing the deterrent itself. And that might be a credible claim if they didn’t already know there’s no evidence to suggest harsh policy is actually a deterrent (as per my post)…

      In other words, they’re risking refugee lives when they know it won’t deter others, and therefore won’t save lives.

      I’m afraid what we have here is a cynical smokescreen.

  66. Aida says

    Hi Glenn, I really admire your work..

    I’m wondering what you can tell me in defence of some of the economic refugees (I’m not sure how to refer to people who are coming by boat because of financial reasons)?

    Sometimes during these discussions with people I find I don’t know what to say other than ‘they deserve a better life for their families’.

    Thank you

    • says

      Hi Aida. Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated. I think the only point you need to make is that approx 92% of our boat people are eventually found to be genuine refugees. This doesn’t mean ‘economic refugees’. It means people with a well-founded fear of persecution in their own country…

  67. Tim Tsagaris says

    Well put!
    My parents came here as boat people back in the 50s, they were not refugees they where invited to help populate the country and like all migrants have helped to shape this country into the wonderful cultural melting pot it has become. Our politicians have a lot to answer for!

    • says

      Hi Tim. Thanks for your comment. It’s crazy, isn’t it? People are so quick to forget the benefits brought by previous generations of refugees (as well as the criticism of those refugees when they first arrived… “they won’t assimilate”, etc.).

  68. Jonathna Kent says

    The problem is, we can afford only certain number of people not whoever comes in as they cost as money. Extra money spent on the refugees will be cut from the people who are on social benefits. Do not forget that not every person arrives by boat is a legitimate refugee most of them are just economical immigrants as they are looking for better living conditions for them selfs!

    • Owen Godfrey says

      Jonathna, please read the statistics. Over 90% of boat people are legitimate refugees, not “economic” refugees. Also, the number of people trying to come to Australia by boat is not as great as the number of people who are succeeding in coming into Australia on a visa and then just staying. The fact is that most “economic” refugees can afford to buy a ticket and get a visa for the same amount as boat people spend. People only come by boat as a desperate last measure.

    • Arif says

      “Extra money spent on the refugees will be cut from the people who are on social benefits”

      Evidence please?

      PS. Are we talking about Refugees or Asylum Seekers, as your comment suggests we are talking about Refugees then I must state the fact here, that is, Refugees up until Abbott Govt’s introduction of draconian measures to stop people for seeking protection, after security checks (which varies from case to case, but in most cases take 2 to 3 months) become Australian permanent residents hence no extra cost on them as they are treated same as any other Australian permanent resident and any extra spending would mean it would equally apply on every Australian permanent resident so why only point on Refugees.


      • Arif says

        Please send back every ‘economic’ Refugees back because there is no such thing as ‘economic’ Refugees and Refugee Convention does not oblige Australia to grant visa to people who are merely here for economic reasons.

        Had there been any so-called economic Refugee, we would have known (and certainly Scott Morrison by now would have sent hundreds on them back), statistics speaks the truth and Morrison knows it.

        The economic refugee term was used/brought into media’s attention by FM Bob Carr referring to those 32,000 asylum seekers who at the time, have not been processed yet the magical Bob Carr miraculously knew what their reasons to chose Australia as sanctuary been and Scott Morrison with all his zeal haven’t been able to identify the ‘economic’ Refugees. Australia is better off economically compared to countries where these people are fleeing from but that doesn’t mean anyone who claims asylum here is economic Refugee. Millions of Refugees live in third world countries and Australians are fine with them and won’t call them economic but if those people chose to come here, they would suddenly be termed economic Refugees.

  69. Pearl Tabart says

    My daughter is going to be receiving her Monash Scholarship to Oxford to study Masters of Public Policy Law. She will be presented her scholarship by PM Tony Abbott because Peter Cosgrove couldn’t fit it in to his packed schedule. We are very disappointed he is presiding over this special occasion. My daughter said she feels like saying, on receiving her scholarship from him, “Thanks for this opportunity for me to learn how to better defend asylum seekers when I return.” I am so proud of her!

  70. john says

    Transporting anything across national borders is strictly administered by laws, rule and regulation all around the world. Money, personal belongings, currencies, precious metals, drugs, weapons, etc., etc., etc., are all scrutinized on borders around the world.

    In an exactly the same way, transporting people across national borders is an illegal act. There are no ways for boat owners and/or operators to distinguish who is genuine refugee seeking an asylum and who is not. For all concerned, at the moment of boarding the boat they are only seen as PEOPLE.

    It is PEOPLE, in an exactly the same way as a drugs/money/weapons, is what is also being smuggled in boats across the Australian national borders. Like any other illegal activity it is also very lucrative and is done for the sole purpose of making a profit and not for any other humanitarian reason.
    People smuggling is an illegal act.

    We have all come to accept this fact when it comes to the sex industry. It is time to for all of us to also accept that people smuggling is illegal when it comes to the refugee seekers industry as well.

  71. andrew says

    If all those who come by plane are given temporary visa’s and most come this way…..why do these people pay thousands of dollars to get a boat from indonesia and risk their lives instead of just flying from indonesia to australia.
    To be honest they must be pretty stupid.

    • says

      Hi Andrew. Thanks for your comment. I cover this question above: Flying to Australia would definitely be cheaper, and I’m sure all boat people would do it if they could. But the fact is that they have to get an appropriate visa first, and this isn’t always possible, as the application process and requirements for an Australian visa are quite rigorous. “Airlines simply will not carry passengers without visas into Australia because they will have to return them to the country of departure and risk being fined for having brought them here.” Also, to get a visa may expose them to danger.

  72. Matt says


    I serve in the RAN and have been involved in numerous roles over the past 10 years in what is now labelled Operation Sovereign Borders. I have served as a Boarding Officer and Executive Officer for Patrol Boats which, in these roles, require us to be fully conversant with International Maritime, Migration and Customs Law. We have Legal briefings prior to our Patrols and I guarantee you there is not ONE ADF member embarked in our Patrol Boats who would burn someone as punishment for a strict personnel movement plan on a boat. Our sailors are more often than not, by our policy, illegally HELPFUL to Irregular Immigrants, by offering them games to play, cigarettes etc to pass the time and ensure their comfort. I know ALL the boarding Officers in the past 6 years or so PERSONALLY, and the claims of a burning punishment is simply unreal. We have never been taught punishment, it is STRICTLY forbidden and to be honest is not even mentioned in our briefs because it does not even warrant thought. If something of this nature HAD happened it would be impossible for it not to have been heard in the Patrol Boat Community, Sailors unfortunately love to yarn and it would have spread like wildfire.

    I have personally shed a tear for some of the conditions in which I have recovered children in terrible weather, I have seen a Naval Sailor hold an Iranian Child in rough weather being thrown about a boat protecting her and damaging himself in order to protect her. I have NEVER witnessed in all my years nor have I heard, nor as a humanitarian myself SEEN our ADF mistreat or even mention mistreating boat people.

    As I really enjoyed the thoroughness of this site and the content within, I would seriously urge you to reconsider having an unsubstantiated claim against our ADF men and women on your site.

    Also as somewhat of a SAR man who has been involved in numerous incidents myself, I would have you know that we never leave a stricken boat on its own. If we find it and its unseaworthy, we follow the law to the code and embark stricken people. We are not murderers and it would be IMPOSSIBLE for us to leave a damaged boat off a coast knowing it to soon flounder.

    Also, what many do not know is this. We are unable to turn back boats! The tactics used by Indonesian Traffickers is to damage their boat and call for SAR assistance. As soon as this occurs we are legally obligated to help and always do so. Our SAR authority acts immediately in ALL situations, stopping LARGE tankers and cargo ships in the area to search for stricken vessels, AT GREAT COST, until the Navy can arrive. The cooperation with Indonesia is impossible, they DO NOT respond. They have promised cooperation in the past with a timeframe that would have certainly resulted in the death of an entire boat load of people. The RAN then has to transit to INDONESIAN SAR waters to act – something we are not obliged to do but do so anyway.

    I hope this helps you and the readers understand that we as the ADF do as we are told when it comes to political decisions however, we follow a ROE that is strict, we are the sons and daughters of Typical Australians …which you may be aware that a Typical Australian now can be of Indian, Russian, Iranian, Chinese… any dissent. We are the ones who love to help, that is our Job, we helped in Bande Aceh in 2004, we have and I have personally, installed running water to impoverished schools in remote islands, we help rebuild in our neighboring countries after natural disasters – we are ALL Humanitarians as it is the primary reason why we join the outfit. To help our way of life and to help our MATES of neighboring countries when we can.

    Yours Aye,


    • says

      Hi Matt. Great comment. Thanks for taking the time to write something so eloquent. I do appreciate it, and I also don’t dismiss your points. However, my issue re the alleged burning is with the government: “…despite being legally obligated to investigate the matter, the Australian government is investigating the ABC, for reporting the claims!” Until the government does, in fact, investigate it, it will remain unsubstantiated. In other words, it’s the government’s failure to do as they’re obligated to do that motivated me to publish (and retain) the claim. Sorry. :-(

      Re the turning back of boats, there have been numerous reports of turn-backs / tow-backs. I’ve even seen a video. But again, if the government wasn’t being so secretive about these matters, we wouldn’t need to question them… :-(

      Re leaving stricken boats on their own, that’s not what I said. I said the navy was forcing boats back to Indonesian waters and leaving them offshore to fend for themselves. I didn’t say they were stricken.

      Please be assured, my beef is not with navy personnel; it’s with the government.

      Thanks again for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  73. Joshua says

    Extremely informative, you have obviously done a lot of research and a very passionate about this. I previously was concerned about Australia’s policies put this has escalated that view. Thank you for the insight, it has helped me gain a greater perspective on the issue.

    • says

      Thanks Joshua. I’ve been tracking Australia’s inhumane policies for a few years, but the 2013 election was the catalyst I needed to start writing.

  74. What a Joke says

    If only your stats were true! Sadly they are not. Only 48% (not 93%) of illegal immigrants are found to be genuine refugees. You only mentioned the top 5 countries that we accept. Most people who come to Australia illegally are from Indonesia – and most of them are sent straight back again. The whole reason why we have to have them in detention camps is because so many Indonesians pretend to be from some other country (whichever one is the flavour of the month at the moment – currently Afghanistan). People actually from Afghanistan are fine. If only they had some way for us to determine for sure who they are. Oh, that’s right – they have passports and birth certificates and such.

    The percentage of illegal immigrants who commit organised crime in Australia is much higher than the national average amongst legal immigrants (I am using the term “illegal”, even though you don’t like it, just to distinguish between those that have visas and those that do not). There is a branch of ASIO specifically to deal with illegal immigrants involved in organised crime. It is around 5% of the illegal immigrants. As for them committing regular crime, it is around 50% – far higher than the regular level of 10%. You decided not to put those stats in there, which is quite interesting. Of course, there is a reason for that. People from war torn countries are used to crime, and are distrusting of police etc, so tend to keep doing crimes once they get there. Plus, of course, the people who are after them come with them, and continue their crimes here too! Just ask Kenya what happened when they accepted massive numbers of Rwandan refugees in! A previously very friendly country ended up wartorn because they didn’t check who they were letting in.

    The problem, of course, is Indonesia. Remember the MV Tampa? That was a boat full of people from Indonesia. We used to let them in all of the time, but thanks to meddling by Norway, they made us let them in. Indonesians used to engage in all sorts of crime in Australia all of the time – much of it involving native wildlife. But after the MV Tampa we weren’t allowed to turn a blind eye anymore. So now they engage in people smuggling.

    If we want to fix this problem, there is only one way to do it. We need to confront the Indonesian government about it. They are the ones who accept bribes from people smugglers, who forge people’s identities so that they pretend to be from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan or whatever. If we can stop that, then all of this will be over and done with.

    Oh, and the idiots who spout out about how mean we are to genuine asylum seekers need to take a break from spreading lies to everyone, please! Yes, there are genuine refugees, people actually from Afghanistan etc. But the ones from Indonesia, they aren’t genuine at all. And that is most of the ones in these camps. Get your facts straight.

    • says

      Hi and thanks for taking the time to comment. I can’t comment on Kenya/Rwanda situation, as I haven’t researched it. I’d be very interested to see research you’re basing those claims on. Please share. I’d also be keen to see the research backing your claims about criminal activity among refugees or asylum seekers in Australia, and the nationality of the Tampa refugees. The rest, however, I already know to be factually incorrect, so I know you won’t be able to provide verifiable evidence to prove it.

  75. Jacqui McCormack says

    Is there no way the Abbott government can be legally challenged on any of this? The use of the term “illegal arrivals” is surely slanderous. And who polices adherence to the UN conventions? Can’t they be called to account for this? And surely, if we detain people in contravention of these conventions, that amounts to false arrest? Or even kidnapping, if we take them somewhere against their will?

    • says

      Hi Jacqui. Thanks for your comment. For a good summary of the legal ramifications of our policies, check Shauna’s comment above:

      Here’s the key bit: “If we fail to uphold our obligations as enacted into domestic law, we’re then subject to the UNHCR (UN High Commissioner on Refugees). The problem is that as a committee, the UNHCR has very little power to do anything to us for failing to uphold our legal obligations. The international court may have jurisdiction to deal with the matter but it’s highly unlikely they’d ever do so. That’s why the burden falls on our domestic courts.”

      Shauna is an ex-lawyer.

      It seems crazy to me that tobacco giant, Philip Morris, can sue Australia for using plain cigarette packaging (which is in the interests of humanity and breaches no legal obligations or laws), but we can’t be sued for treating refugees the way we do (which is counter to the interests of humanity and DOES breach international legal obligations). It’s a sad reflection of our corporate-driven society.

  76. Grant says

    The only way we know they are fleeing persecution is if they say so, which of course they all do. How can we prove what they are saying is real and that they aren’t infact an economic migrant?
    Many Muslim immigrants to Britain hold no connection to that country meaning they can succumb to radicalism and many have.
    Australia will reap what it sows if it doesn’t look after home first.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Grant. All asylum applications are assessed against requirements set out in our Migration Act. Do you really think all they do is ask each person if they’re fleeing persecution and leave it at that? If that were the case, all asylum seekers would be found to be refugees.

    • says

      Thanks Odille. I appreciate your kind words. And yes, I wish everyone would read and understand the facts too. Sadly, the facts don’t always match people’s opinions and prejudices, though, so many people are very resistant to them. :-(

  77. Carolyn says

    Hi Glenn, thank you so much for the work you’ve put into informing people of the facts around asylum seekers. It never ceases to amaze me that all the information you have provided in one article is freely available and yet many people still don’t do any research to inform themselves!

    • says

      Hi Carolyn. And thanks for your kind words. Yeah, it’s disappointing that many people refuse to even read the facts… :-(

  78. says

    This is absolutely fantastic. Thank you for writing something so articulate, thorough and well research. I’ll be sharing it with all my followers without a doubt.



    • says

      Thanks Geoff. Much appreciated. And thanks even more for sharing. We need to get the facts out there. The gov and mainstream media sure aren’t interested in educating the public. :-(

  79. beth says

    glenn you are a legend

    if we all keep doing what we can to push the truth, help people to think critically and get off our bums and support March in March we will make a difference!!!

  80. Paul says

    What gives a person the right to,select the country that accepts them? Are they not safe in Papua New Guinea? Or one of the several numbers of countries that they pass to? Do we not have the right to say no? If they throw their documents overboard, who are they?
    Does not a person who opposes illegal immigrants have a legitimate view as compared to yours? You are correct in that a lot more arrive by air. Once they arrive on land, then they are deemed to,have entered australia, and have to be processed. If the law says that Christmas Island is not land as part of immigration, then thats the law.

    • says

      Hi Paul. Thanks for your comment. Most of your questions are answered in the article above, but I’ll answer them again here:

      1) What gives a person the right to,select the country that accepts them? The Refugee Convention gives them the right.

      2) Are they not safe in Papua New Guinea? Or one of the several numbers of countries that they pass to? No, they’re not. PNG is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, with a very corrupt police force, legal system and government. And the other countries they pass through (usually Pakistan, Malaysia & Indonesia) have not signed the Refugee Convention, and are therefore not legally bound to protect refugees. What’s more, many asylum seekers are Shia Muslims who are fleeing persecution by Sunni Muslims in their home country. Indonesia is 88.2% Muslim, and the majority of those Muslims are Sunni. So Shia Muslims face persecution in Indonesia just as they faced at home. Additionally, homesexuality is illegal in PNG, so any gay refugees will be persecuted in PNG because of their sexuality.

      3) Do we not have the right to say no? No, we don’t. When we (helped write and) signed the Refugee Convention, we agreed to take in and process all asylum seekers who come to our shores, and if they’re found to be genuine refugees, we agreed to protect them. This is a legally binding agreement.

      4) If they throw their documents overboard, who are they? People (and the media) often get this confused. Boat people come by boat because they don’t an Australian visa, not because they don’t have ID. Many (perhaps most) do have passports and other identifying information, just don’t have an Australian visa. Yes it’s true that some destroy or throw away their passports too, and personally I don’t actually know how the people assessing their asylum applications determine their identity. Perhaps you should ask the Department of Immigration. Note however that if you believe they cannot judge an asylum seeker’s identity and refugee status without formal ID, then you must also question how some asylum seekers are sent back to their home countries on the same basis. And bear in mind the damage done if they’re wrong is far greater in that instance.

      5) Does not a person who opposes illegal immigrants have a legitimate view as compared to yours? Of course. But mine is based on fact and statistics. If yours is not, don’t you think it might be a good idea to reconsider it?

      6) You are correct in that a lot more arrive by air. Once they arrive on land, then they are deemed to,have entered australia, and have to be processed. Actually, I didn’t say a lot more arrive by air. Until recently this was true. At the moment it’s not. At the moment, just under half arrive by boat. But yes, it’s true, once they arrive on land (or in Australian territorial waters) they are deemed to have entered Australia, and must be processed. Unfortunately, this has not been happening. Some boats have been forced back to Indonesian waters, and the majority of asylum seekers already in Australian detention centres have been waiting for many months/years for their applications to be processed. Also, there are some asylum seekers who do NOT get the benefit of the official processing. Sri Lankan asylum seekers are put through an ‘enhanced screening process’ to determine whether their asylum claims will be processed at all. Some are sent home after only this. And recent reports found that some of these people have subsequently been tortured (water torture, multiple gang rapes, beatings, imprisonment) after being returned to their persecutors.

      7) If the law says that Christmas Island is not land as part of immigration, then thats the law. I’m not sure what you mean by this.