Up to 10,000 boat people ready to flee

CANBERRA – The arrival of the biggest boatload of asylum seekers since the new wave of illegal migrants began building late last year has again set alarm bells ringing in Australia.

As the 194 people migrants were being taken into detention on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, reports emerged of as many as 10,000 more waiting in Malaysia for their chance to risk a journey that has claimed dozens of lives.

While the Opposition blames the relaxation of the harsh detention regime of the former Coalition Government for the resurgence of boat people, evidence is mounting that laws passed in Canberra have limited deterrent effect.

International agencies support Government contentions that the upsurge in illegal voyages since late last year are largely the product of wars, persecution and poverty, and reflect larger, similar, movements into other rich nations.

Further studies have shown that tough messages from Australia are often ignored, misunderstood or not received by people desperate to find safety and security in a new home, and that “shonky” migration agents encourage others.

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