The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, has said he was misquoted in reports claiming he endorsed the controversial Australian immigration tactic of escorting asylum seeking boats out of Australia...read more.
Indonesian authorities have arrested five soldiers for their alleged involvement with people smuggling...read more.
India has become the most popular source of migrants moving to Australia as the Asian continent contributes over 50% of the total number and the UK drops to third...read more.
Australian immigration authorities intercepted two more asylum seeking boats over the weekend, bringing the week's total to 12 and the year's total within record levels...read more.
Sri Lankan High Commissioner denies Australian immigration comments
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner
says the asylum seeking problem
in Australia is not for him to judge.
The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, Thisara Samarasinghe, has said he was misquoted in reports claiming he endorsed the controversial Australian immigration tactic of escorting asylum seeking boats out of Australia.
While most of the asylum seekers arriving in Australia are of Afghan, Iraqi and Iranian origin, a sharp increase in Sri Lankan asylum seekers has prompted the Sri Lankan government to take action; 130 asylum seekers were intercepted off the country's shores and returned.
The tactic was hailed by Mr Samarasinghe, who said the policy was a suitable deterrent.
"Turning the boats around will deter people," the high commissioner was quoted as saying.
"I mean that is a physical barrier, they know that they can't leave Sri Lankan shores."
The high commissioner's comments were seen as an endorsement of Australian Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott's promises to turn Australia-bound asylum seeking boats around if his party is elected.
However, Mr Samarasinghe, a former navy admiral, has rejected this assumption, saying that the Sri Lankan navy returning boats to Sri Lanka was entirely different from escorting boats out of Australian waters and that it was not his place to comment on the extremely divisive issue.
"That is a factor for the Australian government and the navy to decide," he told Australia's Sky News, adding that all decisions regarding any asylum seeking boats would need to be taken with the conditions of the sea in mind.
"They are the best judge of the situation."
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Indonesia arrests five soldiers for people smuggling
The vast majority of Australia
bound asylum seeking boats set
off from Indonesia.
Indonesian authorities have arrested five soldiers for their alleged involvement with people smuggling.
The five soldiers were arrested as they were apparently escorting 41 asylum seekers from Iran and Syria to an Australia bound boat.
Indoneia is the most cmmon transit country for asylum seekers headed for Australia yet while the issue continues to rock Australian politicis, relatively little is done about it in Indonesia.
The latest spat of arrests mirrors that of another set made last year when another five members of the Indonesian military were arrested for their suspected involvement in shepherding 250 people onto an asylum seeking boat which later capsized, killing as many as 200.
And with more disasters last month, the need for a suitable deterrent both in Australia and Indonesia has been highlighted.
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Almost half of all migrants Asian as India tops Australian immigration table
The number of Indians in Australia
has increased dramatically.
India has become the most popular source of migrants moving to Australia as the Asian continent contributes over 50% of the total number and the UK drops to third.
Almost 185,000 people from across the globe chose to move to Australia between 2011 and 2012, the latest Australian immigration figures show, with over 88,000 alone coming from Asia.
The UK has traditionally been the largest source of Australia visa applicants but has dropped from second last year, to third this year with 25,274 Britons moving to Australia behind China (25,509) and India (29,018).
The majority of migrants heading to Australia did so as part of the skilled migration program, with accountants, chefs and software engineers being the most popular occupations for migrants.
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said Australia's continued economic growth was dependent on the skilled migration program.
"While the government's first priority is always jobs for Australians," said the minister, "skilled migration is essential to support our economy and help overcome the challenges of an ageing population."
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Australian immigration record nears after 12 boats in a week
The number of boats interecepted
by Australian immigration
authorities looks almost certain to
Australian immigration authorities intercepted two more asylum seeking boats over the weekend, bringing the week's total to 12 and the year's total within record levels.
The ongoing asylum seeking situation has dominating Australian politics in the past month since 94 people died when two asylum seeking boats capsized in Indonesian waters. The argument reached new heights in the aftermath of the tragedy and it isn't out of the realm of possibility that her inability to find a solution could cost Prime Minister Julia Gillard her job.
Politicians have fought desperately to find a solution and while one is still seemingly out of reach for partisan politicians to agree on, people smugglers have had their eye on developments and have ramped up their activities while politicians squabble.
The latest arrivals bring the total for 2012 to 91 boats carrying 6,410 people to Australia. With four months of the year remaining, the prospect of surpassing 2010's 6,555 arrivals looks certain.
Ms Gillard has appointed an expert panel headed by former Defence Chief Angus Houston to find a bipartisan solution to the issue and submit it to the parliament when it reconvenes in August.
Whether or not any solution the panel recommends is adopted by politicians remains to be seen but with opposition policies having proved to reduce boat arrivals during the previous Howard government, the opposing Coalition is unlikely to shift their position.
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013