In a turbulent week for Australian politics, immigration once again dominated the news. The influx of asylum seekers arriving in the country and the policy of detaining all those who arrive by boat has fuelled political debate throughout recent months yet a change could be imminent as a landmark case of a Sri Lankan asylum seeker who has been held in indefinite detention for over two years has finally headed to trial.
While the outcome of the case could have a significant impact on Australian immigration policy, the issue came to a head when an asylum seeking boat carrying an estimated 200 Afghan and Pakistani asylum seekers capsized in Indonesian waters.
Australian immigration officials assisted in the search operation but when the search was called off after nearly five days, just 110 people had been saved.
The disaster marks the importance of political cooperation in finding a morally sound and fair solution to the issue yet while the deadlock continues, boats continue to arrive.
The upsurge in boat arrivals combined with an increased rate of people choosing to move to Australia to take advantage of opportunities as a result of the mining boom has led to a sizeable increase in the country's population. The population growth hasn't made everyone in the country happy though as a new political party has formed whose aim is to stop the unlimited migration from New Zealand.
While the majority of the population growth is down to legal migration of skilled labour eagre to contribute to the growing economy, the increase in asylum arrivals has led to the growing concern of over-burdening the country's detention centres.
In order to combat this, the government has opened a new detention centre in Western Australia yet the news was overshadowed and a few faces were left reddened as an alleged people smuggler was arrested in an Adelaide detention centre with AU$25,000 (£16,000) on him.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) latest report has shown that immigration has fuelled a 1.4% population growth rate to the end of 2011...read more.
The case of a Sri Lankan refugee who has been detained in Australia for two and half years without being informed of the process used to deem him a security risk has headed to the Australian High Court...read more.
An alleged people smuggler suspected of being part of an extensive human trafficking operation has been detained in an Australian detention centre with AU$25,000 in cash...read more.
A newly-formed political party in Australia has called for an end to the unlimited migration of New Zealanders to Australia...read more.
A new detention centre in Western Australia built to house 600 asylum seekers has opened its doors to journalists to inspect the new centre's facilities...read more
Australia’s immigration fuelled population swell
The population of Australia has
grown by over 300,000 people.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics' (ABS) latest report has shown that immigration has fuelled a 1.4% population growth rate to the end of 2011.
The growth rate represents an increase of over 300,000 people, bringing Australia's total population to almost 22.5 million people.
The ABS report, derived mainly from the 2011 Census, shows that over half (55%) of the increase was due to net overseas migration, a 9% increase on 2010 which has been attributed to the country continuing to bring in foreign labour to support its ongoing resources boom.
The rest of the growth was a natural increase of births minus deaths.
The growth was largest in Western Australia, where the majority of the resources and mining projects are taking place; the smallest growth (other than the Australian Capital Territory) was in Northern Australia.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard originally promoted a message of a 'Big Australia', with a population of 36 million, during her time in the Rudd ministry but has since abandoned that policy since assuming her position as prime minister.
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Indefinite detention case heads to court
The High Court's decision could
have a widespread impact.
The case of a Sri Lankan refugee who has been detained in Australia for two and half years without being informed of the process used to deem him a security risk has headed to the Australian High Court.
Australian immigration policy dictates that if an arrival is given an adverse assessment by the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the individual will not be granted a visa and will be detained until a third party country to resettle the individual can be found.
The government has reportedly tried to resettle the man, who has remained unnamed, in 11 countries: seven have declined, four have ignored the request.
The process by which ASIO deems an individual is a security threat has not been released to the public due to apparent security concerns that the process could be exploited if widely known.
The Sri Lankan man is being represented by the human rights lawyer behind the scuttling of the government's Malaysia Solution last year who argues that the man wasn't afforded procedural fairness as ASIO did not detail the allegations against him.
A judgement on the case is not expected for some time but the eventual outcome could have large ramifications for the process of indefinite detention.
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Alleged people smuggler caught in detention centre with $25,000
The man was found with $25,000.
An alleged people smuggler suspected of being part of an extensive human trafficking operation has been detained in an Australian detention centre with AU$25,000 in cash.
The Afghan man, Ewaz Ali Rezaie, 45, arrived in Australia as an asylum seeker and was detained in an Adelaide detention centre. The man was arrested after increased investigations into people smuggling activities following the authorities' failure to keep a trafficker known only as 'Captain Emad' from leaving the country after being exposed by an investigative TV program.
When he was arrested on people smuggling activities, authorities found AU$25,000 (£16,000) in cash. Rezaie was denied a bail application for him to return to immigration detention, instead he was ordered to be taken into federal custody.
"It is alleged that he's in the business of people-smuggling and he has an extensive network both within and outside of Australia," said prosecutor Jillian Smith, who argued bail should be deined on the grounds that Rezaie could intimidate witnesses in detention.
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Party calls to end NZ migration to Australia
A newly-formed political party in Australia has called for an end to the unlimited migration of New Zealanders to Australia.
The Stable Population Party claims the migration agreement between the two countries, in which citizens of either can live and work in the other country visa-free, should be abolished.
"You can still have a close relationship with New Zealand, without having a completely open-slather policy on immigration," said Clifford Hayes, the party's candidate for the Victoria Senate.
The party's announcement comes after the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a report based on Census data that showed the country's population has grown by 1.4% in the last year.
Mr Hayes claims more than 50,000 people had arrived in Australia from New Zealand in the last year alone and by introducing policy which would require New Zealanders to apply to migrate, rates of net migration to Australia could be reduced by as much as 100,000.
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New detention centre opens in Western Australia
Northam is located 60 miles (100
km) from Perth.
A new detention centre in Western Australia built to house 600 asylum seekers has opened its doors to journalists to inspect the new centre's facilities.
The Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre in Northam, Western Australia was originally intended to house 1,500 asylum seekers but was reduced amid concerns of a breakout by local residents.
Australian immigration authorities have fought hard to win over local residents and have promoted community interaction between locals and the detainees which will include sporting contests and tours of the local area.
While facilities inside the centre will allow the detainees access to the Internet as well as sporting facilities and a library, authorities have been quick to assure people detainees are not pampered.
"Frankly, it's a detention centre - it's not a holiday resort," said Bruce Needham, regional manager of detention for WA.
"But nor is it a prison, so we think we've got a suitable blend between reasonable accommodation and activities programs while maintaining the security of the facility."
All asylum seekers arriving in Australia are immediately detained while their refugee claims are evaluated. As arrivals numbers have reached alarming levels in recent months, already more than 1,000 this month, more than double the amount budgeted for, authorities are keen to avoid the overcrowding that saw riots break out in a Sydney facility last year.
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- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013