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Push vs. Pull – Asylum Seeker Numbers and Statistics

Round 42 in the never ending war against ratbaggery brings us to the argument of what drives asylum seeker numbers – push factors vs. pull factors.

Proponents of the push factor view claim that the numbers of people attempting to enter Australia to seek refugee status – including those that arrive by boat – are primarily driven by events outside of Australia’s direct control. They argue that events like war, political unrest and other causes of human displacement and general misery around the world create a supply of asylum seekers that spread throughout the globe seeking sanctuary and a better life, and that the numbers coming to Australia are primarily a function of these events rather than domestic Australian policy.

The Pull Factor school of thought on the other hand claims that it is primarily Australian domestic policy responses that define the number of people seeking asylum in Australia. They argue that there is always a large supply of those seeking asylum around the world, and that marginal changes in Australian domestic policy lead to large changes in the proportion of that global pool that will choose to seek asylum in Australia rather than alternative destinations. The Pull Factor school ultimately argues that marginal changes in the deterrence level of Australian policy is the difference between pushing asylum seekers away to be someone else’s problem, or pulling them toward Australia to become our problem.

Fortuitously, we have a handy little natural experiment available to test the broad accuracy of the Pull Factor school. Firstly, Australia and New Zealand exist in the same part of the world, meaning that we would expect to experience the same regional dynamics when it comes to localised asylum seeker numbers. Secondly, we are both relatively desirable destinations with a western orientation and free from any internal political persecution of minorities. Thirdly, and most importantly, over the last 15 years or so Australian and New Zealand border protection policy became sharply divergent. From the end of 2001 Australia implemented the Pacific Solution while New Zealand policy has remained fairly consistent over the entire period.

If the Pull Factor school of thought was accurate – if pull factors really do dominate asylum seeker numbers – then we would expect to see very little correlation in total asylum seeker application numbers between Australia and New Zealand – afterall, our respective policies are different and during the Pacific Solution period were vastly different.

If we take the total asylum seeker application numbers for both Australia and New Zealand over the period of 1994-2008, we can run a scatter plot and regression line to see if there is any correlation.

ausnz

This tells us that those carping on about Pull Factors as being the dominant effect, are engaging in a few pull factors of their own. The Australian and New Zealand experiences are highly correlated in a very strong statistically significant way. This is the exact opposite of what would occur were our respective domestic policies the dominant influence on our respective asylum seeker numbers.

Something else is driving our numbers together – giving us this high correlation.

We don’t have good numbers for total global asylum seeker applications, but we do have good data on the following 38 developed and borderline developed nations: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Cyprus, Czech Rep, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rep. of Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States

If we compare the combined Australia and New Zealand numbers against this global 38 group, we get:

ausnzglobal

Again, a strong correlation. Not as strong as that between New Zealand and Australia which share the same regional dynamics, but strong none-the-less, suggesting that even regional differences get swamped by larger trends in global asylum seeker supply numbers.

Those folks promoting “Pull Factors” as being the dominant influence of total asylum seeker numbers are, quite simply, wrong.

Where it does become more complicated however is if we ignore total asylum seeker numbers and just look at those asylum seekers arriving by boat. Yet, by doing so, we are effectively ignoring the majority of asylum seeker claims in Australia – sometimes ignoring nearly all asylum seekers in Australia. If we look at just the total amount of people arriving by boat each year as a proportion of total Australian asylum seeker applications, it tells a complicated story:

boatproportion

The years 1999 to 2001 saw the dreaded ‘boat people’ make up a relatively high proportion of our total asylum seeker numbers– but it’s also worth noting at this point that those three years make up 3 of the top 4 years in total asylum application numbers in our collection of 38 nations.

When those proponents of “Pull Factors” that are slightly more nuanced in their approach (more nuanced than, say, boneheads like Sharman Stone and Andrew Bolt for example) limit their argument to just “boat people” – they are still left arguing at best about a minority of asylum seekers, at worst about virtually none. However, they do have some evidence backing their argument – although evidence of high uncertainty.

If we rank the years 1994 to 2008 by numbers of ‘boat people’ arriving in Australia from lowest to highest (so the lowest year gets a score of 1, while the year with the highest number gets a score of 15), and do the same for total global asylum application numbers from our 38 nations (1 being the year with the lowest number and 15 being the year with the highest number) – we can compare the relative strength of boat people arrivals in Australia with the relative strength of broader global asylum seeker trends. When we run a scatter and regression with the two sets of ranks, we find ourselves with an interesting outlier.

boatglobalrank

If we ignore the 2002 result as an outlier and use the other 14 years to build our regression line, it tracks well – suggesting that the relative patterns through time of boat arrivals in Australia, is itself a function of broader global asylum seeker trends. The reason 2002 is an outlier (and also a dodgy stat that we’ll get to in a tick) comes from it being the starting point of the Pacific Solution – the year when 1 billion dollars worth of forward expenditure began to be implemented. It did reduce numbers – by redefining parts of Australia as not actually being Australia. Any boat people that happened to land were conveniently excluded from the statistics by an act of definition.

Let’s be clear – this is what the Pacific Solution did – it diddled the stats by redefinition. Boats still made the attempt to enter Australia – which is a point worth noting as many of the proponents of Pull Factors cite reducing the risk of death from reducing the number of people attempting the voyage by boat, as one of their key rationales. Yet we know that SIEV(s) 5,7,11 and 12 in 2002 attempted to make the journey and were returned to Indonesia while SIEV(s) 4,6 and 10 actually sank. That was in very late 2001 through late 2002. In 2003 we know that boats were still attempting to make the voyage such as SIEV 14, but were again towed back from whence they came.

The UNHCR estimates that 1600 people were diverted throughout the time of the Pacific Solution, but hard numbers are difficult to come by.

What that figure doesn’t take into account are the numbers that attempted the voyage but were turned back – nor those that sank or were suspected of being lost at sea.

If we adjust the 2002 number to account for boats that not only attempted to make the voyage, but ended up detained within the Pacific Solution system using the numbers provided by the Select Committee for an inquiry into a certain maritime incident 2002, we can add 1546 to the 2002 number. Redoing the same chart as above now gives us:

adjustedboats

Which paints a somewhat different picture.

So while the more nuanced argument of Pull Factors – that they reduce the number of boats attempting to make the voyage – may have some force of weight on paper as evidenced by the statistics of boat arrivals following the Pacific Solution, it still relies on a set of very dubious numbers by ignoring the reality of voyages still being undertaken, but conveniently redefined as somebody else’s problem. While Pull Factors most likely have some relatively small effect on boat numbers, they are simply swamped – overwhelmingly swamped – by Push Factors.

UPDATE:

Just a quick update – I forgot to put links in for where the actual data came. For asylum seeker application numbers you can go here and here at the UNHCR, while the boat arrival data came from the parliamentary library here (now moved here)

89
  • 1
    William Conroy
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    It just confirms that “the lying rodents and his associates” were living up to the name. It is time this Govt exposed the lot of them then we could have our own “Nuemburg trials” and dispatch them to Baxter or gitmo as Gibbs(NCIS) calls it.

  • 2
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Great work Possum. You have to love stats – they don’t suffer prejudice.

    Am sure this will totally change the way polticians and the media approach the issue…

    Sigh.

  • 3
    Gibbot
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    What Grog said. Excellent post, Possum.

    What a shame that those falling for the pull argument aren’t interested in data.

    This tells us that those carping on about Pull Factors as being the dominant effect, are engaging in a few pull factors of their own.

    Made me sneeze gravy. Eyes are still watering.

  • 4
    kymbos
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Interesting analysis, Possum. Would be interested in seeing the bar chart done again with our international obligations included (ie, include pacific solution numbers in our arrivals). How much did ‘real’ arrivals drop from 2001 to 2002?

  • 5
    BH
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Poss – Phew! that’s good work and really interesting. Why not send it to Sharman Stone and Scott Morrison – they may learn to be more factual in future.

  • 6
    SBH
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Great work, the trouble we have is that after 11 years of Howard dumbing down debate this particular debate seems to be characterised by the con side screaming bullet points (like the Oz’s simply wierd 10 commandments). Paulin Hanson showed facts and logic mean nothing. Time for our leaders on both sides to step up and make us a better nation.

  • 7
    cud chewer
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    It really is time Rudd tried to lead public opinion rather than accepting it…
    He’s got a honest to goodness decent and thoughtful immigration minister. He just needs to stand up publicly and voice the facts. It may piss off the rodents in our society but most of those vote Liberal anyhow :/

  • 8
    SBH
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    pauline

  • 9
    adastra
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Another great analysis Possum. That should settle the argument, but we know it won’t as the Coalition will continue to argue its ‘pull factor’ case, no matter what evidence there is to the contrary. Unfortunately truth is irrelevant in politics; it’s perceptions that count. And politicians work to create perceptions, no matter how fallacious they are.

  • 10
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    This is the Graph Labor don’t want you to see:

    http://www.geocities.com/cis_for_cookie/illegals2009.jpg

    Australians have no problems with real refugees. What we do have a problem with is illegal boatpeople from Indonesia stealing their spots.

    Therefore compiling data on all Asylum Seeker applications including those of people coming through the legitimate way is irrelevent to the boatpeople debate.

    There has been a 1000% increase in boatpeople since Rudd signed in the new soft touch laws back in August. No other country has experienced a 1000% surge, therefore it is 100% likely his policies are to blame.

  • 11
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Therefore compiling data on all Asylum Seeker applications including those of people coming through the legitimate way is irrelevent to the boatpeople debate.

    You might want to understand the data a bit better before spouting horseshit. Start here:

    http://www.unhcr.org/49c796572.html

  • 12
    John Bennetts
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t applied mathematics beautiful?

    I now know with certainty that I am not simply a bleeding heart softie.

    Thanks, Poss.

  • 13
    bobswinkle
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Lol, do you think “truth” even bothered reading the article before he copied and pasted his completely nonsensical graph?

    The graph falls into the very statistical trap which Possum very nicely outlined for us (thank you) regarding the 2002 figure on asylum seekers arriving by boat.

    Craziness, you’d think he’d at least attempt to not undermine his entire post with such bull***.

  • 14
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    “You might want to understand the data a bit better before spouting horseshit. Start here:”

    Labor are claiming there has been a 20% increase in Asylum applications worldwide year on year. I’m sure there has been surges up and down all during the Pacific Solution period when boatpeople numbers didn’t nudge from it’s record low numbers(anyone remember Afghan and Iraq Wars?)

    But okay lets take Labors word for it, and I’ve no reason to question it, there has been a 20% surge in asylum claims worldwide.

    Now we will pretend Labors laws didn’t kick in August 2008 which is when all the boatpeople began coming(there was zero arrivals for 2008 before this) and that his laws kicked in December 31st.

    161 Boatpeople Arrived in 2008 so we’ll use that as a starting benchmark figure. Now we take in the 20% surge in applications Labor talks about.

    That should take 2009 numbers up to a whopping 194.

    Actual Arrivals for 2009 so far: 1700+ and still counting

    Push factors don’t even come into it. People trying to suggest that the years between 2002-2008 were the most peaceful in human history and everything went to the can August 2008, sheer coincidentally the same month Rudd signed in the new laws leading to a 1000% increase in boatpeople have got to be pulling my leg.

    I realise people have strong feelings both for and against boatpeople, but the line that Rudds laws did not increase the amount of people coming here is in my view a dead and buried issue.

  • 15
    Barry 09
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    1000% surge ?????? thats about 75,000 boat people since August WOW the truth hurts, ps the new laws have not come in yet ????? so when they do ,will there be a 1,000,000 % surge ???? Look out Australia will be overun by boat people. What about the other 95 % that fly in and stay ????? Is that you Mr. Bolt (the truth hurts) or are you sharon stone???
    What a tosser you are(the truth hurts)

  • 16
    Barry 09
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Help me possum, i got boat people flooding in my front door. look out to sea , thousands of boats filled with “terrorists’ from countries the yanks have bombed. Help.

  • 17
    imacca
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Interesting graph linked to by TTH @ 11.

    I don’t really think that it helps the “we are being swamped by boat people” side of the debate to be throwing around this 1000% figure though. Any increase off a small base is going to show up as a humongous percentage, even though the actual numbers of boat people are still pretty low in context of people applying for asylum in Australia.

    The previously linked graph, while interesting, only refers to numbers vs “pull” factors. It doesn’t even consider “push factors”. I think its the kind of thing that would be produced by someone devoted to the “pulling is all that matters” view.

    The information it presents could be part of an analysis relevant to the debate on boat arrival asylum seeker numbers, but its certainly not the whole story.

    Using the 1000% argument strikes me as somewhat hysterical. It attention grabbing but a bit silly. Its based on 2 adjacent data points. Two points make a line, but not a trend, and even if you see a trend in the data, you then have to work out why there is a trend. I think that Possums analysis a good broad stab at that.

    Many thanks Poss.

  • 18
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Actually a 1000% increase on 161 is 1771.

    There has indeed been a 1000% increase since the new soft touch laws of August 2008.

    As to the overstayers, I am worried about them just as much. These people are visa overstayers, they did not enter the country illegally however. They also can not get permanent residency and all the benefits of this including Dole cheques, Public Housing and Medicare, they are usually just Tourists who have overstayed because they were having such a great time here.

    Love it or hate it the Pacific Solution and tough Howard laws including TPV’s and mandatory detention worked great guns reducing the influx of boatpeople. Reading todays news it looks like Rudd has his finger on the pulse of the nation and is going back to the Pacific Solution except this one will be the Indonesian solution instead where we pick them up and dump them to be processed in Indonesia.

  • 19
    Dan
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    This is a blog for informed discussion based on observable reality. We take both our stats and our politics seriously. We don’t have the time or patience for uninformed rants of this variety, or we would be all be hanging out on the Herald Sun instead of here.

    Now kindly f*ck off.

  • 20
    Dan
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Poss – I’m guessing that the data would be incomplete to fully explore push factors? I know there would be a lot a variables but it would make for very interesting reading. ie – the number of displaced people reported for a given conflict results in an increase of global asylum applications by X, meaning broadly we could expect an increase of asylum apps here by Y if we follow the correlation trend outlined above.

    Or maybe i’m being a bit wishful…

  • 21
    james mcdonald
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Even if “TheTruthFarts” was right in his most deranged worst-case calculations and 75,000 refugees were coming, WHO CARES? We take in hundreds of thousands of immigrants annually, we have scores of thousands of illegal overstayers arriving by plane, the number of refugees the smugglers are capable of bringing here is a drop in an ocean.

    What is so special about refugees that you fear them so much and ignore all the other much larger figures?

    Do you have some kind of deep down suspicion that nasty things such as they’re running away from would not really happen to nice people?

  • 22
    bobswinkle
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Truth, the statistics that you’re citing are intrinsically flawed, as Possum has already outlined quite succinctly (once again, if you bothered to actually read it).

    The “161″ you cited is based on a methodology which neglects measuring the actual attempts to reach Australian shores. You’re having your cake and eating it to. Or, to put it more succinctly, fudging the numbers to make a bull**** argument.

  • 23
    james mcdonald
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Dan for feeding the trolls

  • 24
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    “This is a blog for informed discussion based on observable reality. We take both our stats and our politics seriously.”

    Not too sure who you are talking to, but I do indeed take my numbers very seriously.

    The numbers I have given are observed reality and come from none other than the Federal Government of Australia itself:
    http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/BN/2008-09/BoatArrivals.pdf

    Feel free to recreate your own graph with corresponding points to the introduction of the Pacific Solution and the introduction of Rudds soft touch laws.

    Politicians do lie, but as we all know the numbers never do.

    Now there are 2 possibilities from my numbers:

    1. The world was most peaceful it had ever been between the years 2002-2008, coincidently starting right after the introduction of the Pacific Solution, and in a stunning lotto winning lotto coincidence stopped the minute kevin rudd signed away these hardline laws for the biggest soft touch laws we have had in over a decade. Forget the dates of the start of the Afghanistan War, the Iraqi War, the Iranian Earthquake, the worlds largest Tsunami disaster of 2004… nope none of these matter, the world was 10x worse August 2008, because of “world factors” exactly the same time Rudd signed up as soft touches. It just must be true.

    2. The Pacific Solution deterred boatpeople from coming here thanks to the negative news of how “badly”(untrue) we treat boatpeople. A 99.9% reduction the year later is followed by years of very low boatpeople arrivals thanks to the laws effectiveness of scaring boatpeople away. In August 2008 Rudd makes a very public announcement covered by most major news organisations that he is dropping mandatory detention, TPV’s, Rights of Return and various other laws turning Australia into the biggest soft touch in the South Pacific. The next few months the boat people begin to flood to Australia, steadily increasing to the situation we are at today where we are recieving a few hundred every month.

    Now i’ll take option 2. Option 1 doesn’t pass the Commonsense Test.

    The spin from Labor on this is amazing, they still can’t admit it despite a majority of Australians knowing THEY were the ones responsible.

  • 25
    bobswinkle
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Sorry too; feeding the trolls. I should just have faith that the people who read this blog understand political posturing and bullshit compared to actual real analysis of the facts with real thought behind them.

    Thanks again though Possum. Keep it up, love your work.

  • 26
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    All that is missing from this debate is a politician who claims they can see Indonesia from their house.

  • 27
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m just wondering Truther if you’ve actually read, understood or tried to understand a single word of the article you are commenting on, because it seems to have gone completely in one ear and out the other – ignoring the actual number of boat people from the Pacific Solution period, and ignoring that the 2004-2008 period actually contained 5 of the lowest 6 years in terms of global asylum applications since 1994.

    I normally come down like a ton of bricks on people that start heckling those asking innocent questions – but in your case, as far as I’m concerned, you’re trolling.

    The arguments you are making aren’t actually reflected in the data you are citing. And it’s not the first time – I’ve seen you do this sort of thing before elsewhere.

    So wake up or be canned.

  • 28
    Dan
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Poss? Push figures? Thoughts? :)

    (sorry to bump but i think the troll was distracting all of us)

  • 29
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m not trolling, my views are simply different to yours.

    My Stats are factual, i’ve provided my source for the information and numbers.

    My graph is based off those numbers and focuses completely on boatpeople arrivals, and not trying to mix them in with total asylum seeker applications, distorting the real numbers.

    Many Australians such as myself have no problems with a structured managed Asylum Seeker intake program whereby Australia decides who is the most needy and who is allowed in. Therefore any analysis of Asylum Seeker applications through legal means is completely off topic at the subject at hand, that being illegal boat arrivals which according to latest polls concerns 80% of Australians.

    As inconvenient the facts may be, it is simply undeniable there was a massive drop off of boatpeople coming to Australia after the implementation of the Pacific Solution, and a sudden surge after the dropping of these laws in August 2008. I’ve simply provided the numbers, the graph and the corresponding periods of implementation of each policy on my graph, and the numbers are correct. People should draw their own conclusions to my graph and numbers and make their own mind up on what they think really caused the decrease and surge.

    Whether someone is for or against boatpeople, they should at least admit the reality of the changes laws have on arrival numbers.

  • 30
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    Kymbos went:

    Would be interested in seeing the bar chart done again with our international obligations included (ie, include pacific solution numbers in our arrivals). How much did ‘real’ arrivals drop from 2001 to 2002?

    I’m working on the former, but unfortunately dont have the data for the latter (that includes numbers towed back etc)

    Dan – I’ll have to have a bit more of a think about that. It’s actually what the article was supposed to be about originally, but then I ran into complications, got sidetracked and ended up with this instead! :-D

  • 31
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    Truther – arriving by boat is a legal means of applying for asylum – as legal as it is flying here, overstaying your visa and applying for asylum.

    I too used the numbers from that very document – and it doesnt contain the actual numbers of boats that for all intents and purposes arrived in Australia. If 1500 people landed in a boat in Australia and a majority of them were granted asylum, they’d be counted in those numbers. But if 1500 people landed in Australian waters in 2002, were transported to Manus Island or somewhere under the Pacific Solution, and a majority of them were granted asylum (which is what actually happened) – none of that shows up in those numbers because the Howard government redefined what the definition of a boat person was!

    Those people arrived by boat, were processed by Australian regulations and granted asylum in this country, yet not a single one was counted as a boat person. So no, your figures aren’t right at all – which is what I explained in the article.

  • 32
    imacca
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    @ 26 TTH suggests that possibly:

    “The world was most peaceful it had ever been between the years 2002-2008, coincidentally starting right after the introduction of the Pacific Solution”.

    But doesn’t take that suggestion seriously and goes on to assert the primacy of the pull factor of the “Pacific Solution”.

    However. given Poss’s statement that:

    “the 2004-2008 period actually contained 5 of the lowest 6 years in terms of global asylum applications since 1994″,

    It actually makes sense to me that for some reason (and to work out those reasons definitively you would need to correlate more info than just asylum seeker numbers) there weren’t the push factors active at the time that were active before and after that period.

    That accords i think with a common sense view that people aren’t going to jump on leaky boats, with their kids, unless they are desperate. The things that make them desperate are going to be things that happen in their country of origin (push factors), not things happening half a world away in Oz (pull factors).

  • 33
    Dan
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Poss, it ain’t worth it. Truther is clearly the type who uses data to support a preconceived position *cough – pilmer – cough* rather than letting the data itself lead to the story (or more usually to further questions). Such people don’t respond to arguments based on data because they can’t. Which is why he keeps repeating himself.

    Keep us posted tho – if you can get something off the ground it would be the perfect ying to this post’s yang :D

  • 34
    TheTruthHurts
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    “Truther – arriving by boat is a legal means of applying for asylum – as legal as it is flying here, overstaying your visa and applying for asylum.”

    You haven’t done you research on this.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/MIG/detention/report/appendixd.pdf

    Migration Legislation
    Amendment Act 1989
    In the context of an increasing number of unauthorised boat
    arrivals from Indochina, the Act introduced significant changes
    to the system of processing boat people. It provided that an
    officer had discretion to arrest and detain a person suspected of
    being an ‘illegal entrant’, although detention was not
    mandatory.

    Migration Amendment
    Act 1992
    Introduced by the Keating Government with bipartisan support,
    the policy of mandatory detention was envisaged as a
    temporary and exceptional measure for a particular group of
    unauthorised arrivals or ‘designated’ persons who arrived by
    boat between 19 November 1989 and 1 September 1994. The
    period of detention was limited to 273 days.

    Migration Reform Act
    1992
    Extended mandatory detention from a specified group to all
    who did not hold a valid visa. The Act established a new visa
    system making a simple distinction between a ‘lawful’ and
    ‘unlawful’ non-citizen. Under Section 13 of the Act, a migration
    officer had an obligation to detain any person suspected of being
    unlawful.

    Etc etc etc

  • 35
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    You are missing the point Truther – arriving by boat and claiming asylum is still a legally recognised means of doing so. Every “boat person” that has been granted asylum has achieved it by…… arriving by boat. Of course they are detained, or course they are processed – as are overstayers.

    But arriving by boat does not prevent them from claiming asylum, it does not legally invalidate their asylum claims anymore than overstaying a visa legally invalidates an asylum claim.

  • 36
    imacca
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    TTH, whether they arrive by boat or plane they are still able to apply for asylum. Labeling them as illegal or unlawfull, while possible pedantically correct in a legal sense is also lawyer speak bullshit and just feeds the hysteria about this issue. A bit like the 1000% twaddle earlier.

    However they are designated when they arrive, they are asylum seekers particularly in the context of the analysis by Poss which people are discussing here.

  • 37
    David Richards
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Andrew Bolt.. is that you?

  • 38
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps all migration may stop when the unfortunate arrivals realize that thanks to the bloody-mindedness of the major political parties-excluding the Greens, of course-all citizens of Oz will be paying more taxes to help the big mining companies, especially the coal mining companies, keep polluting their bloody hearts out because silly, stupid Australians, lots of them, would prefer to live on a semi-clean planet.

    Upon arrival customs and immigrations officials should show them pictures of how cute their children will look in gas masks. Give talks on what sort of fruit and vegetables, trees, whatever will not grown in an overarching sky of gaseous smog.

    Congratulations Malcolm Turnbull, I just knew you would sell your rotten soul.

  • 39
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Select Committee for an inquiry into a certain maritime incident 2002,

    Possum I thought you were being clever with the use of those words! But no, that actually was the title of the report??

    Brilliant

  • 40
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Poss, there are times when I just despair. Quite wrong of me to but in off-topic.
    Sorry about that. V.

  • 41
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    Grog, if one didnt know better, one might think that there was a desert dry sense of humour running through our upper house brethren :-D

  • 42
    james mcdonald
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that the years 1996, 1997, and 2000 are the three years in which refugee applications to Australasia were above trend relative to the control group of developed countries.

    Sue Hoffman, who has interviewed many people smugglers and refugees in Indonesia ( http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2576043.htm ), wrote an interesting letter in today’s Australian ( http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/letters/index.php/theaustralian/comments/wait_for_residency_is_unfair/P0/ )

    She says her research indicates mandatory detention from 1999 had no effect on the choice of Australia as a destination, but Temporary Protection Visas (which got many applicants out of detention centres but denied them any right to settle in or stay long term) did influence their choice to try their luck with Australia–but as as an incentive, not a deterrent.

    Think about it: TPVs offered no opportunity to become a member of society, you couldn’t even get help with language training or job placement, and your visa was only for three years. Not much good for economic migration; only appealing if you’re running for your life and the TPV is a chance to survive in spite of the coldness of the welcome.

  • 43
    james mcdonald
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Correction: I meant to say mandatory detention from 1992, not 1999. TPVs started in 1999.

  • 44
    cud chewer
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Three cheers Poss! :)

  • 45
    northerner
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Liked the piece, but I have to say in analyzing push vs pull factors, you’ve left out the crucial third factor, the “merchant” factor. The number of people arriving by irregular means, whether by air or boat, is also related to the profit margins the smugglers can wring out of the process. With the Pacific Solution, the boat smugglers had a much less attractive product to market, with smaller profit margins and greater risk ratios. So, fewer boats. With the end of the Pacific Solution, the product becomes more attractive and hence more saleable. And if you look at if from the smugglers’ point of view, the correlation between Aus and NZ stats, notwithstanding the different national policies, is a product of the difficulty of getting a boat to NZ without running the financial risk of losing it in Indon or Australian waters.

  • 46
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    but I have to say in analyzing push vs pull factors, you’ve left out the crucial third factor, the “merchant” factor.

    If this was the case we would see a difference in figures for New Zealand. We also wouldn’t see such a relationship between boat people and asylum seekers internationally.

  • 47
    james mcdonald
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

    And the adjustment between chart 4 (defining Australia to be only within the “Migration Zone”) and chart 5 (Including all Australian territory as “Australia”) we would not see such a difference as we do. That bit of statistical gerrymandering is the only thing that shows a significant drop in the choice of Australia. After adjusting for the gerrymander, there’s only a 16 percentile drop (from 10th to 12th place) in the choice of Australia vs. other developed countries.

    Hi Possum, it would be cool if you could give numbers for your charts to make them quicker to refer to. In my previous post I was referring to chart 2.

  • 48
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    James – that’s a great idea. Next time I run multiple charts in a topic where there’ll be a bit of discussion, I’ll label them that way.

20 Trackbacks

  1. ...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason Wilson and Pollytics, Tron Lord. Tron Lord said: RT @jason_a_w RT @Pollytics Push vs. Pull – Asylum Seeker Numbers & Statistics http://bit.ly/4ESmPo Which factors drive asylum seeker no's. [...

  2. ...] On the topic of asylum seekers, Possum has looked at the push vs pull factors argument and finds that (irrespective of policy changes) our boat arrivals correlate strongly with changes [...

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