Boats versus planes

Posted on 27 June 2010

Here, a few things to keep in perspective next time someone starts banging on about queue jumpers and boat people:

Asylum applications in Australia correlate strongly with global asylum application numbers

A particularly enraged Possum put together a post clearly showing the statistical relationship between global asylum application numbers, and those applications received in Australia. Even a quick glance at this graph will illustrate the point:

It’s misguided to suggest that Australian policy toward those seeking asylum has a significant effect on the number of asylum seekers in Australia. Later in the year, Possum also analysed the numbers behind push vs pull factors. Unsurprisingly, he found push factors overwhelmed pull factors.

Greater numbers of asylum seekers arrive by plane than arrive by boat

The Sunday Telegraph reported last year that some 30 times as many asylum seekers arrived through Australia’s airports in 2008 than arrived by boat. It also reported that those who arrived by boat were more likely to be assessed as genuine refugees. In a blog post on the Daily Telegraph’s website, Malcolm Farr gave some hard numbers: 2008 saw some 4750 applications for asylum in Australia. Of those, just 179 applicants arrived by boat.

2010 is quite unusual in terms of high boat arrival numbers. Even still, we could guess that about the same number again who arrive by boat, will arrive by plane.

Asylum seekers make up a small proportion of our annual immigration intake

A media release from Unicef reports that in 2007-2008 there were 90,308 permanent additions under Australia’s migration program and a total of 149,400 settler arrivals. During this same period, 6,587 of these were granted for humanitarian reasons. Just 25 of these arrived by boat.

2008-2009 saw 1033 asylum applicants arrive by boat. The total settler arrivals during this time were 158,021. That’s well under 1%.

The Department of Immigration & Citizenship indicates a planned 168,700 places in the 2009-2010 migration program and a further 13,750 humanitarian places. Thus far this year, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on the 16th of June that 2,791 asylum applicants had arrived by boat. Thus far in the 2009-10 period, there have been around 5,500 arrivals by boat. Let’s assume that may mean around 6,000 arrivals by boat the end of this year. Certainly a high number in terms of historical arrivals of asylum seekers by boat, but here’s a picture to put that in perspective:

That’s 6000 possible arrivals by boat in 2010, in contrast to a total immigration program intake of 182,450, or just 3.29%. Or 5,500 boat arrivals in the 2009-10 period, a proportion of just over 3%. Not all of this year’s arrivals will be found to be genuine. In a year with record arrivals of asylum applicants, less than 3% of our total migration intake will consist of asylum seekers who have arrived by boat.

Most people have no idea what proportion of our annual immigration intake are asylum seekers

I’m with Grog on this one when he says:

“I refuse to believe that the majority of Australians think the way they do because they believe refugees will bring crime and murder and will change Australia into some Asian ghetto”

I have to think that community attitudes are shaped by a lack of understanding.

Possum broke down some polling taken on people’s understanding of the number of asylum seekers as a proportion of our migration intake. It’s a great post and you should read it – he showed that 38% of Australian voters are way, way off on asylum seeker numbers. Another 30% simply don’t know at all. Just 33% of voters could give an answer that was vaguely in the right ballpark.

As with climate change, I just wish people would go and seek out the facts instead of just repeating talking points they’ve heard.

Won’t happen though, will it.


3 responses to Boats versus planes

  • Deborah says:

    fantastic really fantastic – thanks I was getting really depressed by some of the people out there so it’s great to read something positive, factual and intelligent

  • […] seeking an answer for Tikno (comment 1 below) I found a great post boats versus planes. "Boat people" in perspective! -34.397632 150.850782 GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); […]

  • Michael says:

    Thanks for writing this, I already knew the facts but having the actual statistics and a brief summery like this aids GREATLY in educating people. cheers

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