Australia Day thoughts

Happy Australia Day.

Some thoughts:

1. Spotted this morning, some glorious Australia Day supermarket multiculturalism:
Supermarket multiculturalism on Australia Day

2. I was a Flag Monitor in grade 6. Along with my mate Mark, we put the flag up on the school flag pole. Apart from a minor hitch on the first day when it went up upside down for a short time, there were no issues, though I’d imagine doing the same job for the Elizabeth Street roundabout would be somewhat more time consuming:
Elizabeth Street roundabout, Australian flags
(I’m probably safe in assuming they go up and stay up.)

3. I was pondering, as debate about immigration and asylum seekers rages, if our Federal politicians are familiar with the second verse of our national anthem. (It was originally the third verse. There were originally more in the song, but the national anthem only incorporates the original first and third. We used to sing both in high school, at assemblies and so on.)

Obviously one should be wary about determining policy from lyrics written circa 1901 (much of the song was written before 1878, but this verse was added for Federation), but still, I’d love to hear Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott’s interpretation of them.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We’ll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who’ve come across the seas
We’ve boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.

In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Fewer than 5% of asylum seekers arrive by boat

I was following a link in a comment on The Australian’s amusing story about a Federal government media adviser accidently leaving an email trail on a media release (reminds me of the Windsor affair), which led me a document with some interesting factoids about the arrival of asylum seekers from 1976 to the present:

Boat arrivals only make up a small proportion of applicants. Estimates vary, but it is likely that between 96 and 99 percent of asylum applicants arrived by air originally.

— Parliamentary Library: Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?, p6.

In other words, for all the hype and rhetoric (from both sides of politics) about lots of boats arriving, they account for less than 5% of asylum seekers.

Past figures show that between 70 and 97 per cent of asylum seekers arriving by boat at different times have been found to be refugees and granted protection either in Australia or in another country.

In contrast, asylum claims from people who enter Australia by air on a valid visa and subsequently apply for asylum have not had such high success rates and the majority are not found to be refugees. This is demonstrated by the much lower onshore refugee recognition rates overall (air and boat arrivals combined) of around 20 or 30 per cent annually—the overall onshore refugee recognition rate for 2008 was 21.7 per cent.

— Parliamentary Library: Asylum seekers and refugees: what are the facts?, p8-9.

So, in the best judgement of the authorities, most of the people arriving on the boats are genuine refugees. But the majority of those who have flown in and then claimed asylum (and they account for far, far more people) are not genuine refugees.

There’s a lot of other interesting information (with references) in the document, which is worth a read if you’re interested in this issue.

Related: There are around 3000 people are currently held in immigration detention centres (including Christmas Island), up about 300% in the last year.

In comparison, how many people have arrived using a temporary visa (eg on holiday) and have overstayed and are still in the country, not yet caught? Figures from 2005 said almost 50,000, though the figures don’t indicate how many were seeking asylum. (A quick search didn’t find newer figures.)

Update: Modified headline from “Less” to “Fewer” after a comment from the grammar police.