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Economic migrants dominate illegal migrant entry

For more than a decade I have argued two key propositions in relation to attempted illegal migrant entry to Australia.  Both have aroused intense criticisms:

  • (i) Softening the approach to so-called asylum seekers will definitely attract many more attempts at illegal entry.
  • (ii) Almost all so-called asylum seekers are economic migrants seeking a better economic life not escape from persecution.

Proposition (i) is now self-evidently true. A trickle of intake during the Howard years has been replaced by an expensive avalanche.  We now face not a minor discomfit but a major difficulty in handling illegal attempts to enter Australia.  The inane response to proposition (i) was to say “Where’s the evidence?”.  But evidence is unnecessary. It is now beyond being arguable that demand curves do slope downwards – reduce a price and you will increase quantities demanded. But if you do want evidence the experience of the last 3 years delivers it unambiguously. Proposition (ii) is now confirmed by Bob Carr – his claim that 100% of recent arrivals are economic migrants contrasts with the fact that recently 95% of such migrants are now assessed as being genuine refugees. But Carr’s observation is saying nothing new. In the 1990s when I worked on migration issues I was stunned to find that almost all of those migrants seeking entry to Australia (mainly from IndoChina) under the refugee and humanitarian program already had family ties here – they were effectively gaining entry  under the family program.

There is absolutely no reason to accept queue-jumper claims for entry to Australia ahead of correctly processed legitimate claims.  The Labor Government may lose office mainly on the basis of its disastrously inept policies on border protection.  Whatever the misled crybabies on the left in Australia may say, Australians are concerned with the issue of controlling entry to Australia and so they should be.  Economic migrants to Australia are not unwelcome but it is reasonable to select them with weight given to the benefits that current residents of Australia get from such migration.  This means a highly selective intake not a whoever-turns-up intake that reflects  phoney humanitarian claims. Howard was right – Australians should have an absolute right to determine who settles in Australia.

Nor (as Adrienne Millbank correctly argues) is this any of the UN’s business either. Whatever its original intentions the UN Convention on Refugees fails to define a sensible and fair role for a country like Australia.  It should be revised by the UN or explicitly repudiated by Australia. Moreover the bleating of the over-paid UN hacks about Australia’s alleged lack of humanitarian concern should be rejected  as the codswallop it is.  This bleating has helped worsen the difficulties of maintaining a reasonable Australian humanitarian program.  Neither the UN or leftwing intellectuals who treat Australia as a social experiment should determine Australia’s humanitarian and refugee intake – the people of Australia should. They will register their vote later this year.

4 comments to Economic migrants dominate illegal migrant entry

  • Ros

    It was alarming when after the tragedy at Christmas Island there were demands from around Australia by family of the dead for either relatives to be flown to the funerals or the dead to be flown to spots in Australia suitable for the relatives. So it was clear with that tragedy that most of the irregular arrivals already had family here.

    An article I read on the IOM site had alarming information in it. It was a paper about irregular migration and it covered irregular chain migration. The paper argued that once irregular chain migration became well established in a country it was almost impossible to slow markedly let alone stop.

    The paper made the point that with an established market much of the funding was being provided by the host country. Welfare payments to the already in paid for the next family members. One of the Coalition’s proposed new elements of their policy, if I was listening properly, is to replace welfare in money with vouchers. We assumed that they were deliberately addressing the issue of Australia funding the trade and the left hadn’t as yet caught on?

  • Jim Rose

    The convention was written before international travel was cheap, and refugees were from other than communist countries.

    Refugees can now transit through countries to apply at the most favourable country. UK has the some problem of forum shopping.

    Up until 1948, any british subject could travel to the UK and live there for good.

    The chances of drowning is about 2%, so for some it is worth the risk.

  • Ros

    One aspect of the paper (I think the author was an academic at LSE) that was really galling was that the author argued (2006 I think)was that the only country that had been successful in effectively keeping a lid on this form of migration was Australia. But of course a critical aspect of this success is that Australia had prevented the business from becoming embedded in Australia. Putting a stop to it is obviously now very much harder.

    I just don’t get why the meme that Rudd is a very intelligent man is so readily accepted by the media and the political class. It seems to me that the most prominent advocate of this belief is Rudd himself. Like his Pax Pacifica, which for those who aren’t familiar with this grand plan of his to make the world of the future a better safer place he modestly described as one of the ideas that would be remembered as a great moment in human history.

  • Ros

    2% or 50% chance Jim, at one end of the human spectrum are idiots like me who however often you tell me that if I flew every day for 6000 years I might be involved in an air accident Istill need to be full of valium and red wine, there are the others who believe it will never happen to them, particularly young men.

    There appears to be no research into the actualities of why people get on the boats because the issue is so emotionally loaded, one is either identified as a callous fascist or a holier than though selfish morally vain elitist. Until we can discuss this modern phenomenon in a grown up way and acknowledge that both the obligation we have to assist those in need and the validity of the right of a nation’s citizens to control their borders we will struggle to deal humanely, and fairly, with this phenomenon of a global interconnected world.